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Cleveland Browns launch First and Ten campaign


Were the Cleveland Browns' rookie players at FirstEnergy Stadium or Grindstone Elementary school on Wednesday? The buzzing atmosphere, the piercing cheers and the enthusiasm at the school felt like the team was playing a real game on Sunday.

"These kids really got me ready for the Dawg Pound," said cornerback Justin Gilbert. "It was pretty rowdy in there."

The whole building had something to be thrilled about.

The Browns officially announced the launch of First and Ten, a brand new volunteering program to encourage Browns fans all across the world to donate their time.

First and Ten is a simple concept which could have an extraordinary impact.

The Browns are asking all of their own employees, players and rabid fan base to volunteer 10 hours, to any cause. The goal is to reach 500,000 service hours within a year.

"First and Ten will strengthen our community involvement in Northeast Ohio and around the country, uniting our team and tremendous fans through volunteerism," said Browns Owner and President of the Cleveland Browns Foundation, Dee Haslam. "Browns fans are passionate, loyal and supportive, and those traits will further allow us to positively influence our respective communities with this unique initiative."

Team President Alec Scheiner kicked off the event telling a unique volunteering story about his own life. Scheiner spent an entire year of his life volunteering in the country of El Salvador. The positive experience changed his life forever.

Players then shared the microphone and addressed the grade school students on how important volunteering is, even at a young age.

Cornerback Pierre Desir often donates his time at children's hospitals, spreading cheer to kids in need. Desir would bring toys and stay for hours on end, putting smiles on the faces of so many families.

Running back Terrance West mentored teenagers at local recreation centers in Baltimore, encouraging the youth to sign up for outdoor activities instead of playing video games.

Quarterback Duke Johnson Jr. volunteered at shelter's while he was playing for Texas A&M. Manziel knows having athletes getting involved in community work can encourage youngsters to want to give back.

"We all know how much this community loves the Browns and the passion they have for us," said Manziel. "For us to come here on the second of last day of school, they're all ready for summer. Just to bring excitement to that and to try and give back to the community as much as they can. It's great for us to be here."

Grindstone Elementary school really was the ideal place to launch First and Ten.

Halfway through the assembly, Cleveland Browns rookies broke off into smaller groups to brainstorm with kids different ways they could volunteer in the community. The interaction might make all the difference.

Linebacker Chris Kirksey remembers getting former Tampa Bay Buccaneer wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson's autograph as a young kid. The experience is something he held onto for his whole childhood.

"I was excited when I got that autograph, and I didn't even meet him in person," Kirksey remembered. "I can only imagine what's going on for these kids right now. It's a good feeling."

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