Players, staff and alumni helped package Thanksgiving meals Tuesday. #give10
CLEVELAND — The Browns joined forces with the Greater Cleveland Food Bank on Tuesday in an effort to help lift the community with Thanksgiving and the holidays fast approaching.
Veterans like Joe Thomas, Joel Bitonio, Duke Johnson Jr., Danny Shelton, Randall Telfer, Tank Carder, the team's rookie class, the Browns Women Organization and staff helped prepare meals to be sent to local shelters, food pantries and food sites throughout Northeast Ohio. In addition to the volunteers on site, the Browns and several players made financial contributions to help fund holiday meals.
"You always think of Thanksgiving as that one meal or Christmas as that one meal that you get with your family," Bitonio said, "and if we can try and help and get some people those meals it's such a good experience."
A longstanding partner of the Browns, the Greater Cleveland Food Bank is the largest hunger relief organization in Northeast Ohio and provided roughly 51 million meals last year to hungry people in Cuyahoga, Ashtabula, Geauga, Lake, Ashland and Richland counties. According to the Food Bank, one in six people in the region is food insecure, meaning they may not know where their next meal will come from. The holiday season presents needy families across the area with additional challenges.
"The fact is, unfortunately, the need for food is high year round but the holidays are a particular challenge for a working poor family," said Kristin Warzocha, president and CEO of the Greater Cleveland Food Bank.
"Everyone wants to provide their kids with a holiday gift as well as a full holiday meal. So for families struggling or living on a really tight budget, this is an expensive time of year to try and provide the food their family needs as well as other things."
Tuesday's gathering is among several efforts by the Browns and Greater Cleveland Food Bank to fight hunger throughout the year. The team held its annual Browns Give Back First and Ten Food Drive during Sunday's game against Jacksonville. Over the past five years, more than 120,000 meals have been made available to Northeast Ohio families by Browns fans through the food drive.
This past fall, the Browns and Greater Cleveland Food Bank raised enough money to provide nearly a million meals at the annual Taste of the Browns event, where Cleveland's top chefs and restaurants join forces to raise money and awareness to combat hunger in the local community
"They do such a good job in Cleveland and the surrounding areas," Bitonio said of the Food Bank. "It's something that I think we need to help with as the Cleveland Browns."
If you would like to help the Greater Cleveland Food Bank and make a charitable contribution this holiday season, visit: http://www.greaterclevelandfoodbank.org/give-help/donate-food-funds
Through Browns Give Back, the Cleveland Browns are dedicated to #give10 through the team's First and Ten initiative. Launched in June 2014, the Cleveland Browns First and Ten campaign is the team's community program, established to inspire fans to volunteer in and help their communities throughout the world by volunteering for 10 hours each year.
Through First and Ten, the Browns are the only NFL club to promote a long-term volunteering program that unifies the team and its entire fan base, with the goal of impacting every individual's city across the globe, as well as the franchise's local community. All Browns fans are encouraged to join the volunteering effort by signing the First and Ten pledge on the team's website and by sharing their stories with #give10. For more information or to sign the pledge, visit www.clevelandbrowns.com/community