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Patriots celebrate volunteers during halftime ceremony at Gillette Stadium

FOXBOROUGH, Mass.- Though the spirit of volunteerism will continue beyond the 2017 football season, the Kraft family and the New England Patriots Foundation celebrated the ongoing Celebrate Volunteerism initiative in a special halftime ceremony during the Patriots' regular season finale versus the New York Jets on Sunday, Dec. 31 at Gillette Stadium. 

As part of their commitment to celebrating volunteers, the Foundation presented the "Patriots Difference Maker of the Week" award each week during the season, which aims to recognize deserving volunteers who go above and beyond to give back to their community. Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft and Patriots and Pro Football Hall of Famer Andre Tippett were on the field at halftime to congratulate all of this year's winners.

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"We were excited to welcome our 2017 Patriots Difference Makers to Sunday's regular season finale," said Kraft. "Despite the cold temperatures, these volunteers managed to bring the same smiles and enthusiasm to the game that they bring to local charities on a daily basis. It was an honor to meet them and to have an opportunity to thank them in person for their incredible commitment to serving others." 

At Sunday's game, Kraft and Tippett announced that each of the Patriots Difference Makers would be receiving a $5,000 grant to support the nonprofit organizations for which they volunteer. During the halftime ceremony, Kraft and Tippett also presented a $20,000 grant to the Cape Cod Military Support Foundation on behalf of the 2017 Patriots Difference Maker of the Year, Don Cox.

"I'm truly humbled to receive this recognition," said Cox. "I accept it on behalf of all the hard working volunteers who help to accomplish our mission and have the same passion for giving back to our Massachusetts military families and veterans." 

As part of the Celebrate Volunteerism initiative and Patriots Community Tuesdays, current and former Patriots players made more than 500 appearances in New England communities throughout the year, participating in activities that included reading books to students, visiting patients in hospitals, giving back to children and families during the holidays and encouraging children to exercise 60 minutes a day through the NFL Play 60 campaign. 

The Patriots Women's Association and Patriots families also joined the Celebrate Volunteerism initiative by participating in coat and toy drives throughout the season. They teamed with more than 20 current and former Patriots players to distribute 220 complete Thanksgiving meals to families in need, prepared for the annual Children's Holiday Party for 250 children and served lunch to women in homeless shelter programs in Boston.

The Kraft family and the Patriots Foundation will continue to Celebrate Volunteerism during the postseason, off-season and seasons to come. The Celebrate Volunteerism initiative aims to share examples of dedicated volunteers, build awareness of the need for volunteering, identify and educate others about volunteer opportunities and inspire New Englanders to follow the Kraft family's example of becoming lifelong volunteers. 

For more information about the Celebrate Volunteerism initiative, including resources and information about volunteering, the "Patriots Difference Maker" award, and to join the Celebrate Volunteerism movement, visit www.patriots.com/community. 

2017 PATRIOTS DIFFERENCE MAKERS OF THE WEEK

OrganizationPatriots Difference MakerHometown
School on Wheels of MassachusettsCatherine DuncanFairhaven, Mass.
Pembroke Titans Against DrugsMike CogburnPembroke, Mass.
Wicked Good CauseKristen FrazierDuxbury, Mass.
Mary's Place, Inc.Roger NolteWindsor, Conn.
Ovations for the Cure of Ovarian CancerMolly McGaffiganGroton, Mass.
Codman Square Neighborhood CouncilCynthia Loesch-JohnsonDorchester, Mass.
Family Services of the Merrimack ValleyHugh KelleherNewburyport, Mass.
Boston Housing AuthorityPatria DriscollJamaica Plain, Mass.
Project PlaybackJason Albaum, Colby Ellis & Juli EnnisKennebunk, Maine
Family and Community ResourcesJanet TraskBrockton, Mass.
Cape Cod Military Support FoundationDon CoxWest Barnstable, Mass.
The Hole in the Wall Gang CampMark RozelleEaston, Conn.
Falmouth Food PantryDorothy BlanchetteFalmouth, Maine
Children's Friend and ServiceBahjat ShariffCumberland, R.I.
Friends of the Bourne Council on AgingCraig PoirierBuzzards Bay, Mass.
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