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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Tue Feb 27 - 02:00 PM | Thu Feb 29 - 11:55 AM

Patriots celebrate 30th annual Thanksgiving-in-a-Basket event as players give back during holidays

The New England Patriots celebrated a 30-year collaboration with the Morgan Memorial Goodwill in Boston, and players gave back on their own, helping local families put food on the table this Thanksgiving.

Robert Kraft, Thanksgiving-in-a-Basket 2023

Thanksgiving is about tradition, and bringing family and friends together around a table of food.

For the New England Patriots, ensuring that every local family has the means to do that every year is tradition in it of itself.

"It's important to give back to this community," said tight end Hunter Henry at the Patriots Foundation's 30th consecutive Thanksgiving-In-A-Basket event at the Morgan Memorial Goodwill headquarters in Boston on Tuesday.

"It starts from the top with this organization with Mr. Kraft. He's been part of this event for 30 years. Thanksgiving is a time that we all grew up with, being around the table, spending time with family. To be able to provide that meal for people so they can focus on spending time with their family is special. I just hope we put a smile on their faces and make their Thanksgiving."

Along with Henry, Patriots chairman & CEO Robert Kraft was in attendance to present a $10,000 donation, with Patriots players, alumni, cheerleaders, and Pat Patriot volunteering as well.

David Andrews, Ezekiel Elliot, Brenden Schooler, Pharaoh Brown, Joe Cardona, Chris Board, J.C. Jackson, Bailey Zappe, were among a handful of players who made the trip from Gillette Stadium to Boston after practice to help carry 200 baskets filled with food and coffee to the cars of families from Goodwill's job training and youth programs.

David Andrews, Ezekiel Elliot, Brenden Schooler, Pharaoh Brown, Joe Cardona, Chris Board, J.C. Jackson, Bailey Zappe, were among a handful of players who made the trip from Gillette Stadium to Boston after practice to help carry 200 baskets filled with food and coffee to the cars of families from Goodwill's job training and youth programs.

"I look at some of these kids and I see myself," Schooler said after the event.

"Not in their exact shoes, but in a situation where you can come and meet somebody who inspires you and drives you to be better. It doesn't matter if you had a full practice a couple hours prior to this and loading thesis 40 pound baskets into cars – it's work it just to put a smile on these people's faces and know that this food is going to go towards a nice home cooked meal and they can enjoy their Thanksgiving."

For these individuals, many of whom have faced significant challenges and have come to Goodwill to gain the support and skills to better their lives, the day will be remembered well after they've cleaned up and boxed the leftovers from their Thanksgiving meal.

That especially rings true for the children, and as noted by Morgan Memorial Goodwill president & CEO Joanne Hilferty, it was important to the late Myra Kraft that kids also left the event with a new book to read. There had to be something for them to take home, too, though the interactions they have with players already leave lasting impressions.

"It takes it from being an exchange to being personal," Hilferty said. "The players embrace it, they're so lovely. They ask the shy little boy who want to say hello what his name is, and give him a fist bump. It may only be a five-minute interaction walking out to their car, but for the family, they remember that. I said to the a mother here about one of those boys, I said, that's going to make his day. She said, no, that's going to make his year."

The players feel it's the least they can do. That walk out of Goodwill's facility into the parking lot may be short, but the conversations are just as impactful for them as they can be for the families benefiting.

"Boston is an awesome city full of amazing people," Henry said. "They support us through thick and thin, so hopefully we can do the same for them.

Ty Montgomery, Patriots teammates host Thanksgiving Food Basket events of their own

While some of his teammates were volunteering with the Patriots Foundation on Tuesday, Patriots running back Ty Montgomery was hosting a similar event for a community dear to his heart.

In collaboration with Communities for People and the Shaw's Foundation, Montgomery brought 50 foster youth and families together at the St. Edward the Confessor Parish in Medfield as part of his passion for youth development and raising awareness about the importance of fostering children.

Patriots teammates like Lawrence Guy Sr. and Jonathan Jones have been giving back to the community in the spirit of Thanksgiving as well.

On Monday, The Guy Family Foundation hosted a Thanksgiving meal giveaway at Chittick Elementary in Hyde Park -- a school they've been supporting in various ways all season. Over 200 families received a bag with all of the fixings for a traditional meal.

Last week, Jones held his second-annual Thanksgiving Impact event at the Berkshire Partners Blue Hill Boys & Girls Club in Dorchester, inviting 300 families for an evening of fun, flag football, and food. Read more here.

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