With the holidays approaching, several members of the Jacksonville Jaguars organization spent time in the community this week. Food was distributed to local families in need while other players visited the local military to provide support. Here's a list of the activities that took place this week in the community:
• The Jaguars held their annual food distribution program, Operation Blessing, on Tuesday at A. Philip Randolph Park. The Jaguars joined several corporate partners, hundreds of volunteers and other local organizations to assist more than 3,000 Eastside families who are in need during this holiday season. Jaguars players, along with more than 250 Wachovia volunteers and volunteers from Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc. off-loaded truckloads of groceries and distributed non-perishable food items donated by growers, food processors and manufacturers that support Operation Blessing International, a national nonprofit humanitarian relief organization. Tony Pashos, Brad Meester, Scott Starks, Marcedes Lewis, Mkristo Bruce, Brian Williams, Cleo Lemon, Dennis Norman and a handful of Jaguars alumni players were in attendance.
• Mike Peterson and his wife, Chantal, distributed holiday dinner baskets to more than 80 families from his hometown of Alachua on Tuesday. The couple greeted the participating families at Hitchcock's Supermarket. Each family was identified through the Alachua County Schools and has children enrolled at Alachua Elementary, W.W. Irby Elementary, A.L. Mebane Middle or Sante Fe High School. Through the Mike Peterson Foundation, Peterson and his wife are dedicated to improving the quality of life and promoting the positive development of youth through football and other community outreach projects similar to the holiday programs.
• Fred Taylor and Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Santonio Holmes hosted a special day for more than 100 families in their hometown of Belle Glade, Florida on Tuesday. The former Glades Central High School standouts provided complete Thanksgiving dinners to families in Belle Glade. The families had the opportunity to meet the players and get their autographs at the local Winn-Dixie.
• David Garrard and his wife, Mary, distributed Thanksgiving food baskets to area residents through the Community Connections organization.
• Thomas Williams, Drew Miller, Theo Horrocks and Paul Smith visited the troops at NAS Jacksonville. The group took a tour of the base and had lunch with the base's commanding officer.
• Drayton Florence and his family distributed special holiday gift baskets at two Winn-Dixie locations, one in Jacksonville on Monday evening and the other in Ocala on Tuesday.