Chris Long may be in the thralls of his first season in New England, but Patriots fans have welcomed him– and his charitable initiatives – with open arms.
Through Waterboys, Chris has rallied players from across the league to raise money to fund fresh water wells in rural East African villages. Waterboys was established after Chris took a trip to hike Mount Kilimanjaro, saw the extreme poverty of some of the villages and decided providing clean water was a way to make a tangible difference.
With a roster of NFL players on the Waterboys website, those who donate to the foundation can choose their favorite team and put their money towards that player's fundraising goal. The idea is to get at least 32 wells, one for every NFL team.
This week, Patriots Nation put Chris over his $45,000 goal, officially raising enough money to fund the "Patriots" well.
Danny Amendola served as the Patriots representative on the Waterboys roster before Chris joined the team this offseason, and the total is a combination of their efforts. Chris said it has been "very cool" to have the support of Patriots fans both on the field and in his efforts to give back.
"I spent eight years in St. Louis, and they were good to me there," Chris said. "The fans overwhelmingly supported my initiative so to be somewhere new and to have great support here as well and being a new guy, it really means a lot."
The money raised by Patriots fans will go towards building the organization's 15th well, which Chris said he hopes will be completed early in 2017. He is planning a trip back to Tanzania in March 2017, as well. By installing these wells, Chris said entire communities are changed in more ways than one.
"Clean water saves lives and it's the easiest way charitably, I believe, to give a dollar and get a lot in return in productivity," Chris said. "Your money's going to directly impact and save lives, but also to improve a community in all facets -- improve efficiency, education, agriculture. All that stuff is improved and transformed because of clean water. It's a holistic approach to improving lives."
To learn more about Waterboys or to make a donation, check out the organization's website here.