Written by Luis Sung | Twitter: @FLSportDebater
The day before the Miami Dolphins faced off against their week three opponents: the Kansas City Chiefs, the Dolphins organization - in conjunction with the AARP Foundation - went on a mission to fill over one million boxes of food to give to the elderly in the South Florida area.
One million seems like an impossible goal, but not when you take into account the fact that over 4,000 volunteers arrived from churches, schools and other community groups, and with all that help, progress was made incredibly fast. On top of those volunteers, there were Dolphins executives such as CEO Tom Garfinkel, and several Dolphins alumni which included former guard Keith Sims, and former tight end Troy Drayton, who is also the Youth and Community Programs Manager for the organization, and he found himself doing several different jobs as the day went on.
"My role is gonna change during the course of the day." Drayton said. "First I was at the door making sure that everybody got to the tables ... the alumni's role is to be wherever they're needed, and to help, to encourage each and every table that they're at."
Drayton also expressed his feelings towards the event and the cause they were working for.
It's always a fun thing, it's a great thing that we can get out to not only help the community, but to help feed people. Hunger is a serious issue around the world and it's a serious issue in South Florida, so I'm just glad that myself and all the alumni were able to come out today to really lend a hand for this worthy AARP cause."
While this isn't the first year the Dolphins have done something like this, it is their first year doing it with the AARP Foundation, which greatly increased the potential of the event after last year's attempt packed over 100,000 meals, which the organization only considered to be a few.
"This year through our relationship with AARP we wanted to pack a million meals, it's never been done in South Florida before, AARP's only doing about five over the course of the nation and we're one of them." said Senior Director of Community Affairs and Miami Dolphins Foundation Twan Russell, who was thrilled to see so many volunteers coming out to help. "We're excited because when you look in this tent, you see a sea of aqua, you see the happiness."
Russell told me how he'd interacted with a woman who was thrilled with what the Dolphins were doing with the event and she was also impressed by the sheer size of it, and she had actually brought her whole church out to volunteer with her as well.
As for the food itself, Russell explained what it was they were packing in the boxes and what he hoped to accomplish with it.
"We're packing things like rice and beans and things that people can make a quick meal and provide for their families, it's just the bare necessities. But you know what, it may not seem like a lot to the people who are packing, but you never know, next year, ten years, it might be them that needs something like this."
The Dolphins have been working hard to get the community involved and really drive home the slogan for this season which is "Stronger Together", and this event was a huge success in providing an example of what the slogan really means. But of course, the Dolphins can't take all of the credit. The organization partnered with the AARP Foundation to make it all happen, and James D. Lutzweiler, the Vice President of the AARP's Hunger Impact Area told me how excited he was to be working with the Dolphins.
"We really came around a common vision of wanting to figure out how we can get more people engaged actively, and understanding the challenges that face low-income seniors in South Florida." said Lutzweiler. "The fact that the Miami Dolphins have moved towards a membership-based platform to try and engage fans and season-ticket holders throughout the year, we thought it was a great opportunity to bring together the AARP Foundation and the Miami Dolphins to look at these issues throughout the entire year."
The final count for the amount of boxes was over 950,000, and they easily would have eclipsed the one million mark if it hadn't been for some unfortunate weather conditions that cut their time short. Nevertheless, the Dolphins have made it a point to say that there will still be one million boxes worth handed out, and it will no doubt let the community know that the Dolphins want to build something great in Miami, and show that we all can indeed be stronger if we're together.