FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (December 28, 2014) – Though the spirit of volunteerism will continue beyond the 2014 football season, the Kraft family and the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation (NEPCF) celebrated the ongoing Celebrate Volunteerism initiative in a special halftime ceremony at the Patriots' regular season finale versus the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, Dec. 28, at Gillette Stadium.
Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft announced grants of $5,000 to 14 nonprofits in the name of each of the "Patriots Difference Makers of the Week" selected throughout the season. Kevin Watson from Pine Street Inn was announced as the grand prize winner, receiving a $20,000 grant made to the nonprofit in his name. Kraft was joined by President of the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation Josh Kraft and Patriots and Pro Football Hall of Famer and Executive Director of Community Affairs Andre Tippett for a surprise check presentation during halftime.
"These volunteers have shown a genuine commitment to bettering our communities," said Kraft. "Each of them saw a need and have been steadfast in their dedication to helping others. It is incredible to hear their heartwarming stories of volunteering and we are pleased to once again honor them at our season finale. It is our hope that these grants will allow their respective nonprofits to continue to serve children and families across New England."
Each week throughout the season, the Foundation focused on different volunteer areas, including education, mentoring and military. As part of each week's focus, the Foundation announced the "Patriots Difference Maker of the Week" award, which aimed to recognize one deserving volunteer in the corresponding weekly focus. Each recipient was recognized with an honorary medal and autographed football during a presentation with current and former Patriots players on Patriots Community Tuesdays. Each of the Patriots Difference Makers of the Week named throughout the season was a special guest of the Kraft family and recognized during Sunday's halftime ceremony.
As part of the initiative and Patriots Community Tuesdays, current and former Patriots players made more than 400 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 book, coat and toy drives throughout the season. They also joined 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 Patriots Charitable Foundation will continue to Celebrate Volunteerism during the post-season, 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 by pledging volunteer hours, visit www.patriots.com/community.