On a cold and rainy Veterans Day in Chicago, Jared Allen joined with Walmart and Procter & Gamble to supply struggling veterans with much-needed household goods. His charity, Homes For Wounded Warriors, has long been active in his former home state of Minnesota and works to provide injured veterans with handicapped-accessible homes and otherwise help veterans in need.
Now that Allen has moved south to Chicago, he is expanding the reach of his charity's work to the state of Illinois, and yesterday marked the kickoff of his work in his new home state. Allen partnered with Walmart and P&G to supply household necessities to the residents of the Eddie Beard Homeless Veterans' House.
He drew plenty of attention from media, customers, and employees as he picked out and pushed two cart-fulls of P&G goods around the store:
After checking out up front, Allen started the Q&A portion of the event by underlining how grateful he was for the support of Walmart and P&G for helping to support his charity, saying that "Coming from a military family, I understand what veterans mean to our country and our way of life... to be able to do things like this, and to team up with people who genuinely care about veterans, it's a true honor." Jared Allen's charity, which he founded in 2009, was driven by his own family military connections: his grandfather, brother, cousins, and uncles all either served or are serving in America's armed forces.
He used the day to put a bit of perspective on the Bears recent slump, saying that "Football is what I do, it's not who I am... The things that we do today - to impact these lives, to change people's lives - can last forever. We have a great responsibility to the community that supports us, and to our veterans who allow us to do what we do."
Switching gears over to football, Allen opened up about what it will be like to play his former team, the Minnesota Vikings, this week. As he put it, "It's going to be fun. It's fun to play against your friends. I'll start watching film on them tonight, and we'll start game-planning for them tonight." He took a humorous turn asked about who he most looked forward to playing against, he said that "Unfortunately, I won't get a chance to blind-side Everson, Greenway, and B-Rob and really drive it home... hopefully we pull off the W and I get bragging rights over them for a while."
Asked about the hottest topic in Bears-land - the possibility of defensive coordinator Mel Tucker getting fired - Allen replied that, "Those aren't decisions I have to make, and I'm grateful for it. Mel's our coordinator, that's who I'm going to play for, and that's who I came here to play for. I'm not even going to worry about that. I'm going to show up to work. When times are tough, you can't start pointing fingers, griping, and complaining. You've got to push through, and I'll tell you what, there are a lot of people who are in a lot worse condition than I am. I think that's the most important thing. It's football, and I know everyone loves to talk about it, but it's not life or death. Days like today are a reminder that there are more important things out there. All I can do is show up to work and give the best I can give, and that's what I'm going to do."
Allen, no stranger to adversity on the football field, has a circumspect view of the Bears' current situation. As he stated, "If I were to ride on what my highs and lows are, I would be an emotional trainwreck. I've been on three 3-13 teams where the next year we've gone to playoffs. I've been on NFC Championship teams where the next year we were 6-10. The NFL is crazy like that - it's humbling, it's fickle - but you never know what it takes to spark something and go on a run. That's why I don't worry about it." He put additional perspective on the situation by stating that "Last week was unfortunate - the drama, whatever it is - but I think guys [should focus] on the blessing of what it is to play football. [That] blessing is days like today when you put it behind you and go to work."
We'll see on Sunday if Allen can indeed help the Bears "pull off the W" against the Vikings, but many thanks to Walmart, P&G, and Jared Allen for supporting this worthy cause.
To find out more about the event and Allen's charity, you can check out the official page here.