FOXBOROUGH, Mass.– Though the spirit of volunteerism will continue beyond the 2015 football season, the Kraft family and the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation (NEPCF) celebrated the ongoing Celebrate Volunteerism initiative in a special halftime ceremony during the Patriots' regular season home finale versus the Tennessee Titans on Sunday, Dec. 20, 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. Ozzie Hardy from Ozzie's Kids was announced as the grand prize winner, receiving a $20,000 grant for his nonprofit. Kraft was joined by Patriots and Pro Football Hall of Famer and Executive Director of Community Affairs Andre Tippett for a surprise check presentation during halftime.
"Every season, I am amazed by the incredible stories and contributions of these volunteers," said Kraft. "This year's honorees are extremely dedicated to volunteering and making a difference in their communities. We love to give these individuals some notoriety and reward them for the impact they are having in their communities. Being able to meet each one of them and have the opportunity to provide additional support to their charities is a lot of fun."
As part of their commitment to celebrating volunteers, the Foundation announced the "Patriots Difference Maker of the Week" award, which aimed to recognize one deserving volunteer who had gone above and beyond to give back to their community. 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 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 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.