‘Tis the season to give, and a pair of Bears players did just that Monday in a northern suburb.
Bears kicker Cody Parkey and punter Pat O’Donnell handed out turkeys at the YWCA Lake County in Gurnee as part of the players’ social justice initiative spearheaded by veterans such as linebacker Sam Acho.
“This is what it’s all about,” O’Donnell said. “Holiday season, giving back … [We want to] make sure they have a good Thanksgiving.”
Each family received a roughly 15-pound turkey and those with children also got some Bears swag like hats, coloring books and stuffed teddy bears. The players also signed Bears-themed calendars for attendees, which came the day after the team beat the Vikings on “Sunday Night Football” for one of its biggest wins in years.
“The fans there last night were just electric,” O’Donnell said. “And hopefully today we can give a little electricity back to this Thanksgiving.”
Earlier this season, Acho told the Sun-Times that he went to his teammates in the locker room asking them to consider opening their wallets for charity. As a result, Bears players collectively donated $291,600, which was combined with $19,550 pledged by coaching staff and front office executives.
Bears chairman George McCaskey was overwhelmed by his team’s generosity and decided to match his employees’ $311,150 donation.
As a whole, the Bears, along with the help of Bears Care and NFL Foundation, raised $813,850 for social justice organizations. The large sum is being split among five recipients: By the Hand Club for Kids, Kicks 4 the City, Saga, YWCA Lake County and My Block, My Hood, My City.