JACKSONVILLE – The holidays shouldn't be about hunger.
That was the spirit of an event Tuesday at EverBank Field, an event attended not only by Jaguars middle linebacker Paul Posluszny, guard Will Rackley and running back Justin Forsett, but team officials and partners as well.
Posluszny, Rackley and Forsett joined Jaxson de Ville, members of the ROAR and representatives from the Jaguars, PepsiCo, Publix and Second Harvest North Florida in the West Touchdown Club at EverBank Field Tuesday to distribute 200 holiday meals to local non-profit organizations.
A thousand more holiday meals will be delivered over the next two days, with the food in turn being delivered to area families, seniors and veterans.
"This is a great program for a lot of reasons," Jaguars President Mark Lamping said. "It represents a great partnership with some of our most supportive sponsors … and probably the biggest reason is what it does for so many people in this community, particularly those who are most vulnerable.
"It is especially important for the Jaguars to be of help to struggling families, seniors and veterans during the holiday season. We're blessed to make Jacksonville our home and it's a privilege to do our part through Second Harvest to help make the holidays a little brighter to those less fortunate in our community."
This is the fifth year the team has donated food to families during the holiday season.
"There are a lot of people needing food and needing help," Forsett said. "For the organization to reach out and help people is a huge blessing for people in need."
Said Posluszny, "It's for a great thing and the Jaguars do a good job allowing us to have the opportunity do this. This allows us to have the opportunity to give back."
Volunteers from Second Harvest North Florida assembled the food and filled Publix reusable holiday bags. Each meals had fresh produce, including potatoes, carrots, apples and oranges, corn, green beans, stuffing, a two-liter beverage from PepsiCo, Publix holiday cookies and a $10 Publix gift card to use toward a purchase of a turkey, ham or other food item.
"This food distribution is a great way for our organizations to come together to support those in need in the Jacksonville community," said Rich Panner, vice president of PepsiCo North America Beverages Southeast region.
Media & Community Relations Manager Dwayne Stevens added, "It is especially important at this time of year that we can partner with the Jaguars and PepsiCo to help ensure that every family can gather together for a warm meal during the holidays."
The Jaguars Foundation coordinated with the following non-profit organizations to distribute the food: 5 Star Veterans Center, Andrew Jackson High School, Boys and Girls Clubs of Northeast Florida, The Bridge of Northeast Florida, Cathedral Residences for Seniors, Communities in Schools of Nassau County, Communities in Schools of St. Johns County, Community Connections, daniel, Inc., Exchange Club Family Center, Families of Slain Children, Fresh Ministries, Heart for Children, The Independent Living Resource Center, MaliVai Washington Youth Foundation, Metro Kids Konnection, The Sanctuary on 8th Street, St. Gerard Campus, Team-Up at Oak Hill Elementary, Touchstone Village at the Youth Crisis Center and The Wounded Warrior Program.
"We know families are hurting," Jaguars Foundation President Peter Racine said. "We know veterans are homeless. We know there are senior citizens who don't have enough to eat. Maybe in a small way, for 1,200 families, seniors and veterans we can be a big part of their holiday picture making sure they have something to eat."
Also around the Jaguars:
*Jaguars defensive linemen took 80 children from the Ronald McDonald House, Sulzbacher Center and Family Support Services shopping at the Toys R Us (St. John's Town center) Tuesday night. Each child will receive $100 to spend at the store.
*Jaguars running back Maurice-Jones-Drew and teammates held an event Monday at the Microsoft Store to help local children get toys for Christmas. Each fan that brought two unwrapped presents to the store and donated them to the Wolfson Children's Hospital received an autograph from Jones-Drew and teammates.