Every weekend locals and fans sit back and watch the Saints conquer the fi eld. While the players kick butt every Sunday, many of them also triumph off the fi eld with their various charities and foundations; giving back to the communities they’re from, along with the communities around New Orleans. Whether it’s a celebrity softball game or fashionable bow ties with a cause, these “local Saints” are here for a reason that is far bigger than a football arena. They are also here embracing and supporting a community and culture that has embraced each and every one of them with open arms and complete fandom.
New Orleans wide receiver, Lance Moore is one of the many Saints out there helping the community. On his website, www.lancemoorecc.org, when asked about combining his mentorship program with the local nonprofi t volunteer mentor program, Each One Save One, he states, "Teaming up with Each One Save One is very exciting and we are proud to bring our voice to this cause. We look forward to working with the mentors and the children of the New Orleans community." His organization, titled The Lance Moore Community Cares Foundation, focuses on impoverished inner-city youths by fi nding positive mentors for them. In August, Lance Moore teamed up with team mate Darren Sharper hosting their annual charity celebrity softball game titled Home Runs for Kids. This event was also tied to Sharper’s Charity, Sharper Kids Foundation (sharperfoundation.org) which is a program that also encourages underprivileged children into becoming prosperous, goal oriented individuals.
When it comes to underserved communities, Malcolm Jenkins also plays a huge role in the community with The Malcolm Jenkins Foundation (themalcolmjenkinsfoundation.org). In September, Jenkins hosted the Taste of New Orleans Fundraiser, promoting his new line of bow ties while also auctioning off large prizes, paintings and signed footballs, all in attempts to raise money for his foundation. Also in attendance at Taste of New Orleans was Saints Safety, Roman Harper. Like Jenkins, Harper runs a foundation that serves as an organization for bettering less privileged communities while promoting literacy, education and family values. Calibrating with his mother Princess Harper, The Harper’s Hope 41 foundation (harpershope41.org) hosts a plethora of community event programs such as a reading contest, entrepreneur workshops, after school youth activities, summer camps for kids and mentoring programs.
Some of the other players have charities that do work outside of the local community of New Orleans. Jonathan Vilma decided in 2010, in the wake of the devastating earthquakes that almost destroyed Haiti, to build schools around the country. His company The Jonathan Vilma Foundation (jonathanvilmafoundation.org ) builds schools to provide a stable education to a group of youth that lost pretty much everything. “What I wanted to do was something long-term; I didn’t want to just go in and help short-term just to say I’ve done my good deed for the day.” Each year to support his efforts towards Haiti, Vilma hosts an event known as Celebrity Servers at Morton's the Steakhouse, where he gathers a few of his teammates together to help wait tables at the restaurant.
Many of the Saints have amazing charities that are near and dear to their hearts. Most of them give back in ways that are relatable to them and their up bringing. Also in the ball park of relatable charities are the ones that revolve around general health and wellness. New Orleans Saints Quarterback and celebrity, Drew Brees, also fi nds time to run his Brees Dreams Foundation (drewbrees.com). This foundation also co-run by his wife Brittany Brees, has a large variety of charity and fundraising events hosted year-round. They donate thousands of dollars to charitable causes and academic institutions in the New Orleans and surrounding areas each year.
Their mission is; “Improving the quality of life for cancer patients, and to provide care, education and opportunities for children and families in need.” The Brees Dreams Foundation shows that Drew is not only a dynamic Quarterback; he is also an amazing guy.
Health is also the key component for Pierre Thomas’ iCan Foundation (believeican.org). Obesity and poor health are some of the biggest problems in America and are pretty prevalent problems here in New Orleans. Thomas’ foundation tackles them both. “We're very happy to be a part of the fi ght against childhood obesity in New Orleans!” says Thomas as he speaks about the iCan Foundation. “Our goal is to educate families on healthy eating practices, making good choices and increasing physical activity. With the help of everyone in this community, I believe we can see the end of childhood obesity.”
Like many of the other players, Pierre Thomas not only runs his own foundation, but also helps with other's charities. Many of the players spend time involving themselves in community charities all around the city. In March, Thomas along with colleague Malcolm Jenkins, attended the annual Children’s Hospital Prom of Champions in which the iCan Foundation worked as one of the many sponsors. Many of the other players also work heavily with other charities around the city such as Son of a Saint and Defend New Orleans.
The bottom line is that these players are Saints in more ways than one. They make touch downs on the fi eld as well as in the hearts of the people they touch. These guys work hard and sometimes play hard, but giving back to the community is their biggest achievement.