Philadelphia Eagles, Phillies show holiday spirit

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Never posted this, thought it as good as time as any, at this point, to celebrate the marketability of professional athletes giving back. -cgw

Interview and article prepared for the Philadelphia Business Journal, as filed, without edits, to run in the Jan. 11, 2008 edition.

Two Eagles lent their significant star power to brighten the holidays for a group of Philadelphia kids, last month.

Through a partnership with the Greater Philadelphia Urban Affairs Coalition, running back Brian Westbrook and free safety Brian Dawkins met individually with 70 Philadelphia children on Dec. 18, giving each a present at GPAUC’s Center City office.

“This was all the generosity of Brian Westbrook and Brian Dawkins,” said Bonnie Grant, spokesperson for the GPUAC, a business-community partnership that unites a handful of regional non-profits. “They wanted to make it a very special holiday for children with need.”

It was a particularly special day for Westbrook, who got word of his most recent selection to the Pro Bowl less than an hour before his appearance. GPUAC president Sharmain Matlock-Turner made an announcement during the event. The children cheered, even if some weren’t old enough to know much about Westbrook’s running game.

“The kids were thrilled,” Grant said. “It was as if there were in the presence of magic.”

Not to be outdone, the Phillies had their holiday spirit in full force.

A handful of front office personnel unloaded more than 7,000 pounds of food the very same day, all donated to feed the hungry of Philadelphia’s growing Latino community.

Among those of the Phillies top brass who were on hand to bring the canned foods, collected at a Sept. 7 game against the Florida Marlins, were Ruben Amaro, Jr., Phillies assistant general manager, and broadcaster Scott Franzke. The donations, which also included a check for $25,000, were given to the region’s largest food bank, Philabundance, which has partnered each holiday season with the Phillies since 2005 when then-Phillies first baseman Jim Thome took interest.

The day before, Phillies President Dave Montgomery, General Manager Pat Gillick and several former players served dinner at the Our Brother’s Place Homeless Facility in North Philadelphia. It was the 8th year such an event has taken place and part of a week of philanthropy.

“As an organization, we recognize how important it is to give back,” said Gene Dias, the Phillies director of community relations. “Particularly at this time of year and particularly to those in the most desperate need.”