For Mark Sanchez, Orange County, Calif., has always held a special place in his heart.
It's where he spent his childhood and established some of his fondest early memories.
The Jets QB returned there shortly after the 2012 season concluded and wanted to make a difference.
On Feb. 1, he reached out to the Long Beach Volunteer Center and helped distribute food to Grant Elementary School. The Food-For-Kids program delivers filled grocery bags of food to hungry elementary school students.
The giving back didn't stop there. Last week No. 6 visited the Boys & Girls Clubs of Anaheim and passed out food to 300 children.
"This means a lot, because you actually do some of the work," Sanchez told the Orange County Register. "The demographic of these kids — there's a lot of Hispanics, and that means a lot to me, helping underprivileged kids that don't get a ton of help.
"These are the kids we really want to channel our energy and effort to help."
Hours before attending the Boys & Girls Club, Sanchez stopped by the Anaheim White House Restaurant to actively prepare the food items. Inside the kitchen, he was instructed by chef Bruno Serato.
The 6'2", 225-pounder dropped noodles into a pasta boiler, sliced broccoli and tomatoes and placed each ingredient into a large mixing bowl with marinara sauce. While the last part of the recipe was pre-cut chicken, Sanchez's final task was to stir everything. Before exiting the restaurant, he presented Serato with a check for an undisclosed amount.
When the 26-year-old arrived at the Boys & Girls Club, he was welcomed with open arms. Before entering the kitchen to serve the food, he took a tour of the facility, posed for pictures with children and signed autographs.
"I want to meet these kids, whether I'm playing handball with them or giving them food to eat," Sanchez said. "Let's interact. Let's do some hands-on stuff; some low-key stuff that doesn't get a lot of attention, and this is perfect."
When he finished his duties in the kitchen, the former USC Trojan went outside and provided the kids an afternoon to remember, leading them in some passing routes.
"You see these kids," the Green & White signalcaller said. "They're awesome, and all they want to do is come up and give you a high-five and they smile. ... It's a great thing to see."