Former Patriots players and cheerleaders paid a special visit to Crossroads Rhode Island and Pine Street Inn to deliver 200 Empowerment coats. They also delivered CITYPAK bags that were generously donated by High Sierra.
Last season, the Kraft family and the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation were inspired by a story of a young woman who was making a difference for the homeless population in Detroit.
Veronika Scott created the Empowerment Plan, a Detroit-based nonprofit organization dedicated to serving the homeless community. Scott's initial goal was to design a unique coat that would also serve as a sleeping bag at night and backpack during the day.
Their organization went one step further by hiring homeless parents from local shelters to become full-time seamstresses. These individuals manufacture the coats, which are then distributed to homeless people living on the streets at no cost.
The Kraft family and the New England Patriots were incredibly moved by the Empowerment Plan and wanted to support the cause for a second consecutive year. Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft, Patriots players, employees and fans of the team purchased more than 200 coats to be donated to men and women in need across New England.
On Jan. 21, former Patriots players and Patriots cheerleaders visited Crossroads Rhode Island in Providence to deliver the specially designed coats and to help prepare a meal for those in need. The former players included former linebacker Vernon Crawford, former tight end Kerry Taylor and Patriots Hall of Famer Steve Nelson. The special guests loaded more than 50 coats into Crossroad's outreach van, which delivers items to homeless men and women that live on the streets and refuse to seek shelter.
High Sierra, a division of Samsonite LLC, and a proud sponsor of the New England Patriots, heard about the Empowerment coat donation and was inspired to support the cause. High Sierra is the exclusive manufacturing partner of The CITYPAK Project, a not-for-profit organization that works to distribute custom designed backpacks to homeless in need. The CITPAK Project and High Sierra donated 150 of these specially designed backpacks to the Foundation, who hand-delivered them to Crossroads Rhode Island.
"We are so proud that we were able to extend the reach of the CITYPAK Project by partnering with the New England Patriot's Charitable Organization," said Dawn Sicco, Vice President and General Manager, High Sierra. "CITYPAK's mission to provide the homeless with a dignified solution to carry their belongings was a natural fit with all that the Patriot's organization does to help their community."
"Giving away backpacks isn't a solution to the complex issue of homelessness facing our country, but it's something we can do to make a small difference for people in this difficult situation," Sicco continued. "We're incredibly grateful to the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation and to Crossroads Rhode Island for helping get these Paks into those hand of those in need."
Nelson and a Patriots cheerleader had an opportunity to hand-deliver two Empowerment coats to a man and woman in need. They would later hand-deliver four CITYPAK bags to women experiencing homelessness. The Kraft family and New England Patriots Charitable Foundation also donated Patriots winter hats to support the efforts of Crossroads.
Crossroads Rhode Island was truly appreciative of the donation.
"We are so grateful to the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation for their generosity and support," said Karen Santilli, President of Crossroads RI. "The jackets and backpacks arrived at a good time when our overflow shelter numbers are higher than we've ever seen and we are able to provide these essential items to people who need them the most as we work towards ending their homelessness."
The following day, former Patriots players continued their coat deliveries to shelters across New England by visiting Pine Street Inn in Boston. Former Patriots Paul Francisco, Steve King and Max Lane delivered more than 100 coats and Patriots winter hats to men and women in need.
As they did in Providence, the former players loaded the coats onto the shelter's outreach van to ensure that the men and women most at risk will receive the items. Once the van was filled, the former players brought the additional coats into Pine Street Inn's kitchen area to donate them to seven men in need. These seven individuals smiled from ear-to-ear after receiving the coats and hats and expressed their appreciation for the donation.
To learn more about the Empowerment Plan and to see more photos from the event, please visit www.patriots.com/community.