Recently, six Raiders players helped bag and distribute groceries to senior citizens in Oakland as part of the Mercy Brown Bag Program, which is partnered with the Alameda County Community Food Bank (ACCFB). S Usama Young, WR Rod Streater, P Marquette King, RB Rashad Jennings, and LBs Jerrell Harris and Nick Roach spent time with the residents of Sylvester Rutledge Manor, signing autographs, posing for photos and visiting with long-time Raiders fans.
“Came out, got with some of the younger [oldest] citizens in Oakland and put together some bags for them to take home, took a lot of pictures, signed a lot of autographs and heard about some folks that have been fans for [50 years],” said Young. “It was a good time.”
The Raiders participated in a program that helps feed over 4,000 low-income seniors a month. “The Mercy Brown Bag Program is one of the partners of the Alameda County Community Food Bank,” said Krista Lucchesi, director of the Mercy Brown Bag Program. “We get food from them and some other sources and then we get it out to the community.”
The Mercy Brown Bag Program is an important partner of ACCFB. “They are our largest partner in terms of serving seniors throughout the county,” said Michael Altfest, Communications Manager for ACCFB. “Seniors are about 20 percent of who the Alameda County Community Food Bank serves. So when the Raiders came to us looking for an opportunity today, Mercy stood out as a great opportunity to come here, interact with the seniors, and give a nice morale boost to some people who are having a hard time right now.”
The players fill the bags with groceries for the senior citizens. Photo by Tony Gonzales
Of the six players volunteering, three of them joined the Raiders this off-season and four of them were experiencing their first community event in the Silver and Black. “First experience with Oakland, it was great,” said Young. “Just to talk to some of the guys, be out smiling, taking pictures and they put us to work a little bit. It was a good time.”
Roach enjoyed his first time in the community as a Raider. “It’s cool,” said Roach. “You’re in a city that loves their sports teams. You can tell that the people here have been Raiders fans and that they’ve been Raiders fans for a long time, talking to us about historic players and that they love us.”
Not only were the players able to make a difference in the community, but they were able to start developing a team camaraderie. “It’s a bond. We started to build a bond,” said Jennings. “You start to get to know each other a little bit on a personal level. You get to see the true heart and the kid of all of us again. We all want to smile, so any time we can come and put a smile on somebody’s face, it’s very important to do so.”
All six of the guys understood their position as NFL players and wanted to use that to make an impact in the community. “I think it’s just always good to be able to get out into the community and see face-to-face the fans that you play for, just kind of be able to appreciate them and give back to them,” said Roach. “They come and support you on Sunday, so the least you can do is for an hour come out and help them to be able to feed their families.”
LBs Jerrell Harris and Nick Roach pose for a photo with one of the grocery bag recipients. Photo by Tony Gonzales
Jennings agreed with Roach. “It was fun to be able to give back to the needy in the community, especially being in our position,” said Jennings. “We’re blessed and we just want to give back to the community and let them know that they’re part of Raider Nation.”
Young, along with some of his teammates, want to do community work frequently. “Always looking to get out and serve the community,” said Young. “Just giving back…You’ve got a huge fan base that supports this team, you want to give back as much as you can. I was looking forward to it. This is my first opportunity and it’ll be my first of many.”
King also enjoyed his time serving the seniors in Oakland. “It felt good showing our support around the community and just being a good Raider,” said King. “I just like helping people out, making people’s day and as long as you’re making somebody’s day every day, that’s what counts.”
The players were able to visit with some of the longest-tenured Raiders fans. “We’ve got some die-hard fans here so it’s just good to see the senior citizens that have been around for awhile still rooting for us and bringing smiles to our faces,” said Streater.
“The event went great,” said Harris. “We had a really good time with the people and just really touch their lives. They were very happy to see us.”
Lucchesi knows the Raiders visit made a large impact on the people they served. “I love seeing the seniors with great big smiles on their faces and in their black and silver and so excited, not just for the food today, but also just to see the Raiders and to interact and shake their hand,” said Lucchesi. “It was fabulous. They’ll remember this day forever.”