The current Coronavirus outbreak is putting pressure on all members of society, but even more so on families and those in vulnerable financial or health-related situations. In order to help them and provide hope in these difficult times, a group of New England Patriots players therefore got together last week to support local families and organizations: they pooled together donations to buy grocery store gift cards and provide them to those in need.
“This is a unique situation as far as what families are going through and what we’re all going through,” Ja’Whaun Bentley told Angelique Fiske of Patriots.com. “We know the kind of struggles families go through, mainly because we’ve all come from that type of background or we know someone from that type of background. We just kind of treat this as everything else, and try to make an impact in any way that we can, by us just being there.”
“Us [physically] being there obviously is not a great thing for anybody right now, so we just try to make a footprint as far as financially as a way that we could reach out and let families know that we’re here with them. We’re being supportive and they’re not in it alone. I know this is a dark, interesting time for everybody,” continued the 23-year-old linebacker, who is one of the 13 Patriots players to participate in the initiative.
The gift cards handed out were each worth $100, and came with the following statement addressed to the recipients:
The New England Patriot players are thinking of you! Please use this $100 gift card to ensure that you have the food and other basics you need at this time.
Buying gift cards was not the only charitable gesture from the 13 Patriots, though. According to Fiske, the group also donated to various organizations: two free lunch initiatives in Roxbury received money, as did Boston Healthcare for the Homeless and an emergency fund to support students and families at a local high school. They also wrote stipend checks intended for students and mentors at Boston Uncornered.
“I just hope it lifts their spirits. I hope it gives everybody a spark to help those in need,” said running back and two-time team captain James White before also pointing out that people generally need to look out for each other these days: “It’s not just about athletes doing it. I think it’s a thing that everybody in our society should do, just help those who are less fortunate. I’m sure it’s more meaningful for them than we’ll ever know.”
“We just look to come together and walk each other through it. Being all together physically is not the best thing, but us being apart as a group and staying at home and letting the virus kind of subside as much as we can,” added Bentley. “Hopefully this bring us all together. We just need to help each other through it. I know it’s stressful, but we need to come together and build up each other where we might be lacking right now.”