With so much negativity surrounding the Chicago Bears, and professional sports in general, it’s always good to balance things out with some positivity to show that these players are more than just what they give on the football field. Many Bears are active in the Chicagoland area, active in their communities, and active with plenty of charitable endeavors to make a difference.
I wanted to spotlight a few recent positive stories about the Bears.
- Safety Eddie Jackson established his Remain to Reach Foundation in 2018 as a way to empower and provide some resources to at-risk kids who have found themselves in trouble with the law at an early age. Jackson is currently involved with the NFL’s Inspire Change social justice initiative, which is aimed to move society “toward a more equal and just tomorrow by reducing barriers to opportunity.”
He recently filmed a message where he explained some of what makes him uniquely qualified to connect with the kids he’s trying to help, and to talk about Mario World, which is a scholarship foundation set up to honor his best friend, Romario Olivier, who passed away. The scholarship is “to help elevate students and individuals to their greatest potential.”
Everyone deserves a second chance, and Jackson, who was kicked out of high school, arrested, and put in jail three times, understands that if there’s a desire there to rise up it’s something that should be nurtured. Mistakes done at an early age shouldn’t define someone forever. Jackson is striving to change the narrative of many of youth in his community.
Also in the spirit of the Thanksgiving holiday, Jackson recently committed a $5,000 donation to support 200 families through the Greater Chicago Food Depository.
- Fellow safety Deon Bush provided Thanksgiving meals to children and their families at the Roosevelt Square location of the SOS Children’s Villages Illinois. This was Bush’s third year working with SOS Children’s Villages Illinois, which is committed to providing safe, stable, loving homes for siblings by keeping them in the care of a full-time, professional foster parent in a single home.
Bush also spent time at the Roosevelt Square location in September at a back to school event where he assisted in handing out backpacks for the school year, signing autographs, and reminding all the kids about the importance of school.
- Back in September Bears’ defensive lineman Akiem Hicks visited the SOS Children’s Villages on the city’s South Side and he brought with him over a hundred pairs of brand new gym shoes to get the kids ready for their upcoming school year. It was the fifth straight year Hicks was involved in their back to school event, and giving back to the community is an important part of Hicks’ duty as a member of the Bears.
“It’s just as much joy as I get on Sunday when I’m in front of 70,000 fans,” Hicks said via NBC 5 Chicago. “I’m watching these smiling faces and they don’t care what our record is, they don’t care what happened this past weekend. They’re just happy to hang out.”
For four straight years Hicks has done a Thanksgiving Meal Service and Distribution, and this year he teamed up with Eat Clean Chicago while visiting the True Value Boys & Girls Club in Chicago where he distributed meals to over a hundred at-risk youth. The Boys & Girls Club strives “to enable all young people, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.”
- Chicago tight end Jimmy Graham, who was named the Bears’ nominee for the NFL’s Salute to Service Award for the second consecutive year, is also an avid supported of Ignite, which is an organization that works with homeless youth in the Chicagoland area. Graham donated full Thanksgiving meals for all of the youth in the Ignite community and residential programs last week.
Ignite envisions a world where all young people have the support they need to be defined by their potential, not their circumstances.
For the Thanksgiving holiday Graham also made a donation to cover the costs of all 250 of the Thanksgiving boxes that were distributed at the Midwest Veterans Closet Turkey Giveaway. Midwest Veterans Closet, which is located in nearby North Chicago, “is a super spreader of food, goods, and dignity for our military heroes. Many are experiencing or are at-risk of homelessness.”
The giving spirit from Graham also saw him make a donation to Bears Care that covered the costs of 375 turkeys at the Firehouse Community Arts Center Turkey Giveaway. The Firehouse Community Arts Center has been a safe haven for young people in the Chicago area for well over a decade.
In the last year Graham, who is a licensed pilot, has given over 50 veterans and their families rides in his two recent U.S. Army aircraft restorations, a 1957 de Havilland Beaver and a 1967 UH1 Iroquois “Huey” helicopter.
“To be able to get an entire family together and take them up for that special experience, you’ve got people crying and telling stories that they’ve never told,” Graham said via the Bears’ website. “This offseason, I had a couple chances to fly three generations all at once. That’s a rare thing, especially when the grandfather flew that exact helicopter in the war.”
The mission of The Jimmy Graham Foundation is to provide life-changing and impactful experiences through the freedom of flight. To recognize the accomplishments and sacrifices of veterans of all eras and provide flights for unfamiliar and underprivileged youth as an introduction to aviation.
- Wideout Allen Robinson II has been one of the most active players off the field for the Bears with his Within Reach Foundation that is dedicated to providing “educational opportunities and resources to low-income and inner-city Chicago students to help put success within reach.”
Find out more about the Bears’ recent charitable endeavors by visiting the Bears’ website here.