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Patriots honor volunteers during pregame ceremony at Gillette Stadium

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FOXBOROUGH, Mass.- Though the spirit of volunteerism will continue beyond the 2016 football season, the Kraft family and the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation celebrated the ongoing Celebrate Volunteerism initiative in a special pregame ceremony during the Patriots' regular season home finale versus the New York Jets on Saturday, Dec. 24, at Gillette Stadium.

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. 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.

"We know that the holidays are a time for giving so it's exciting to have the opportunity to show our appreciation for these volunteers who generously give their time to those in need throughout the year," said Kraft. "This year's Patriots Difference Makers are an incredibly dedicated and selfless group of people that have shown a genuine commitment to serving others. It was an honor to have met them and to be able to offer our support to the causes that are so near and dear to their hearts."

Alvin Notice from the Tiana Angelique Notice Foundation 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 prior to kickoff. The ceremony was also replayed on the HD video boards during halftime.

As part of the 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 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.

2016 PATRIOTS DIFFERENCE MAKERS OF THE WEEK

***Week******Organization******Patriots Difference Maker******Hometown***
Sept. 18Joanna's PlaceHeather MullinWeymouth, Mass.
Sept. 25 Mass. Down Syndrome Congress Brian Skotko Boston, Mass.
Oct. 2Hand Delivered HopeLynnel Silva-CoxEast Bridgewater, Mass.
Oct. 9Cape Cod Challenger ClubKelvin IngSandwich, Mass.
Oct. 16Dare to Dream RanchKaren DaltonFoster, R.I.
Oct. 23Tiana Angelique Notice FoundationAlvin NoticeFitchburg, Mass.
Oct. 30Josh Thibodeau Helping Hearts Found.David KaneSudbury, Mass.
Nov. 6Universal PromiseAllyson MarrinanSaunderstown, R.I.
Nov. 13Special Olympics MassachusettsBrendan AylwardStow, Mass.
Nov. 20Read to a ChildJason DeMarzoNewton, Mass.
Nov. 27BridgesElizabeth KaragosianNashua, N.H.
Dec. 4Boys Town New EnglandKimberly GagneSwansea, Mass.
Dec. 11Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mass. BayNick SislerBoston, Mass.
Dec. 18PinkHippy.orgDel-Marie BachandRochdale, Mass.

Photo caption: Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft and Patriots and Pro Football Hall of Famer Andre Tippett take a group photo with the 2016 Patriots Difference Makers of the Week. Kneeling in the front row, from left to right are Heather Mullin, Nick Sisler and Brendan Aylward. Standing in the back row from left to right are Louise Borke (accepting on Brian Skotko's behalf), Lynnel Silva-Cox, Allyson Marrinan, Karen Dalton, Alvin Notice, Robert Kraft, Kelvin Ing, David Kane, Jason DeMarzo, Elizabeth Karagosian, Andre Tippett, Del-Marie Bachand and Kimberly Gagne (photo courtesy of David Silverman/New England Patriots).

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