When Maurice Jones-Drew decided to start a foundation earlier this year, he wanted to reach out to underprivileged youth and show his support both financially and with his time. The running back did both on Friday morning following the team's morning practice.
The Maurice Jones-Drew Foundation partnered with Winn-Dixie, Dairy Farmers Inc. and Allied Veterans of the World, Inc., & Affiliates for a special back-to-school event for more than 200 area children. The event took place at the practice fields near Jacksonville Municipal Stadium.
Children from the Police Athletic League, Sulzbacher Center, Jacksonville Children's Commission and the St. Augustine Homeless Coalition were the recipients of the backpacks. Jones-Drew along with his mother, Andrea and younger sister distributed the backpacks to the group. Jaguars defensive lineman Derek Landri also assisted with the distribution while several players signed autographs for the children.
"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."
Each child received a Reebok backpack filled with notebooks, pens, pencils and other items supplied by Winn-Dixie. Allied Veterans donated 400 tickets (two to each child) to the Jaguars regular season home opener against Arizona on Sunday, September 20. The group was treated to several activities during practice including an opportunity to get a 'milk mustache' on their face courtesy of Dairy Farmers Inc.
"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.
Dairy Farmers Inc./Dairy Council of Florida is teaming up with the 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."
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.
"We are going to continue to do things in the community," Jones-Drew said of his foundation. "It's important to give these children opportunities and lead them in the right direction."