Jacksonville Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew and his foundation will hold a special back-to-school event for more than 200 area children on Friday at the practice fields near Jacksonville Municipal Stadium. The event will take place during the club's morning practice session which begins at 10:45 a.m.
The children invited are from the Police Athletic League, Sulzbacher Center, Jacksonville Children's Commission and St. Augustine Homeless Coalition. Jones-Drew along with his mother, Andrea, and several members of his family will distribute the backpacks.
The Maurice Jones-Drew Foundation is teaming up with Winn-Dixie, Dairy Farmers Inc. and Allied Veterans of the World, Inc., & Affiliates for the event. The children will be treated to several activities during practice including an opportunity to get a 'milk mustache' on their face courtesy of Dairy Farmers Inc.
Each child will receive a Reebok backpack filled with notebooks, pens, pencils and other items supplied by Winn-Dixie. Allied Veterans is donating 400 tickets (two to each child) to the Jaguars regular season home opener against Arizona on Sunday, September 20.
"I can't thank the sponsors enough for helping out the foundation with this event," Jones-Drew said. "It goes to show what we can do when everybody comes together for a good cause. School is starting back up and these kids are in need of school supplies. It's also a great opportunity for the kids to get to attend an NFL game."
"If we could just make a small difference in the lives of these struggling families, then we'll have reached our goal," said Johnny Duncan, National Commander for Allied Veterans.
Jones-Drew has been actively involved in the community since joining the Jaguars in 2006. He established the Maurice Jones-Drew Foundation earlier this year to help youth-focused organizations. He has hosted a football camp for youth the last three years in Jacksonville and has also held camps in his hometown of Antioch, Calif. On Wednesday, Jones-Drew donated 100 sets of Reebok shoes, gloves and compression shirts to members of the Andrew Jackson High School varsity football team. Each player also received a special shirt that will be worn to school on game days. In addition, each member of the coaching staff received a Reebok jacket.
Dairy Farmers Inc./Dairy Council of Florida is teaming up with the Jacksonville Jaguars to make a long-term commitment to Florida's youth with a nutrition and fitness initiative in Duval County schools called Fuel Up To Play 60 that encourages kids to eat healthier and get more physical activity. The program is aimed at tackling the sedentary lifestyles and poor nutrition habits that have helped spur the current child health and nutrition crisis.
"We want to remind families that during these tough economic times, it's more important than ever to reinforce good eating and physical activity habits," said Jennifer Sills, a registered dietitian with the Dairy Council of Florida. "We know that kids and teens are just not getting enough of the right foods – low-fat or fat-free dairy, whole grains and fruits and vegetables. Community events featuring a healthy, active spokesperson such as Maurice Jones-Drew help remind kids in a fun way how important health and wellness is to being successful now and in the future."