On Tuesday, members of the Kansas City Chiefs Community Caring Team, including president Mark Donovan, the Chiefs Rookie Club and the Red Coaters joined forces with volunteers from Derrick Thomas and Neil Smith's Third and Long Foundation to help feed community members in need for Thanksgiving.
The group focused their efforts on assembling goods and loading them onto trucks to be distributed to those considered food insecure throughout the Kansas City area this holiday.
"Today, we're loading up some good stuff for places around town to distribute to people who need food for Thanksgiving," said rookie center Mitch Morse, "everything from a variety of food such as potatoes, eggs, turkeys and just a vast quantity of all of those foods. It's a good time, it's really cool to see."
Since it began in 1992 as a player-funded initiative, the Chiefs have fed 20,000 families as a result of this annual distribution. This year, the group distributed meals for nearly 1,500 Kansas City homes.
"This is an annual event that we have done since the passing of Derrick (Thomas) [who] started the Third and Long Foundation," said Betty Brown, board president. "Today, we're giving out 452 turkeys to needy families along with the Chiefs and Third and Long and we're going to feed 30-some entities like churches and different organizations."
In addition to the meal distribution, the Chiefs provided a special holiday surprise visit from quarterback Alex Smith, who personally delivered their meals to their door.
The Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith took time out to deliver a Thanksgiving meal to a local family. Had the opportunity to visit with them as well as share some gifts.
"It means a lot because you get to actually interact with the people who are actually going out there and being the hands and feet to these families and helping to serve them," said rookie wide receiver Chris Conley. "When we get to interact with those people and hear their stories, it always means a lot to us. If you don't interact with them, then you never know what help you're actually doing."
November is a month of significant hunger relief focus by the Chiefs Community Caring Team. This year alone, the Chiefs anticipate providing nearly 240,000 meals within the local community thanks to the efforts of the Hunt Family Foundation.
In addition to the annual Chiefs Thanksgiving Food Distribution, the organization also previously held the Lift Up America initiative for 60 local agencies and will host the Chiefs Kingdom Food Drive on Nov. 29 when the Chiefs take on the Buffalo Bills.
"Hunger relief is something that's really important to the foundation—it's one of our pillars," said Mark Donovan, Chiefs president. "And the reality is it's a real issue for us here in Kansas City. There are people in this city today who don't know where their next meal is coming from."
Last year, the Chiefs Kingdom Food Drive set an NFL record by pulling together a donation of 179,681 meals for Harvesters.
The Chiefs and the Hunt Family Foundation, however, do not cease the fight against hunger once the month of November is over. Through other programming such as these in addition to the Souper Bowl of Caring, the Chiefs were directly responsible for providing 264,896 meals throughout Chiefs Kingdom.
"It's a blessing," Morse said on being a Chiefs player. "I could have told you that day one. You really figure out how fortunate you are to be put in such a great organization that really cares about its community as well as its football. It's a great mixture of both."
And with the help of the 2015 rookie class, the Chiefs will continue to take steps to end the fight against hunger.
"I think one of the most important things for our rookie club is for them to understand what it means to be part of the Chiefs organization," Donovan said. "And not only are they out actually distributing the food and meeting the volunteers who work with these organizations, they also learned about the Third and Long Foundation, the importance of providing and giving back to this community and they learned that if you're a [Chiefs player], it's part of your responsibility and job to give back. And to see them do it as they do with a little bit of extra energy is always fun to be a part of."
Remember, you can participate in the Chiefs Kingdom Food Drive on Sunday, Nov. 29 when the Chiefs play the Buffalo Bills at Arrowhead Stadium.
If you can't make it to the game, you can also support the food drive via the virtual food drive which is found at***http://www.chiefs.com/fooddrive***.
There is a text-to-give donation line for fans who wish to contribute financially as well, accessible by texting 'CHIEFS' to 31996 (standard messaging rates apply).