The Green & White will be searching for their first Thanksgiving win (the New York Titans were 3-0 on the November holiday from 1960-62) next Thursday when the Cincinnati Bengals visit the New Meadowlands Stadium.
But before they attempt to bring some joy to Jets Nation on Nov. 25, five Jets — LaDainian Tomlinson, Bart Scott, Jason Taylor, Ben Hartsock and Kenwin Cummings — used their last day off before the Bengals game today to commence Thanksgiving meal distribution, prepare food, and serve breakfast and lunch for thousands of deserving people throughout New Jersey and New York.
Community Food Bank of New Jersey, Hillside
Tomlinson, a community fixture in both San Diego and his native Texas, oversees the Tomlinson's Touching Lives Foundation along with his wife, Torsha. Thanksgiving has always been his favorite holiday and he has brought a longtime program with him to the East Coast.
"LaDainian wanted to do something really local in his community, helping the people of New Jersey," said Anthony Guido, the director of public relations for the Community Food Bank of New Jersey. "So he along with high school students from Malcolm X Shabazz High School in Newark started the distribution of holiday meals to 2,100 people today."
"It's been great," Tomlinson said. "As you can see, we've provided a lot of food to these churches and different organizations to go out in the community to feed their church and different things that they have going on. It's a beautiful day. Any time you pass out this much food, it makes us feel so blessed."
The entire Tomlinson family was on hand as the couple's 4-month-old son, Daylen, watched his dad move boxes onto vans that will be distributed to various agencies in several counties.
"It does feel a little different because he is going to get the idea of exactly what's going on outside in the world. People need help," said Tomlinson. "And I think that's the best way for young people to learn, for them to see it with their eyes. Obviously he's starting at a young age, but this is what I want from him. I want him to understand that he's privileged, but there are a lot of people out there who aren't privileged. It's our job to help out."
Tomlinson has ensured that many people finding difficulty to make ends meet will have complete Thanksgiving meals with their families.
Guido said the families "all get a turkey and in addition the 'Holiday Box' includes all the can trimmings, so there's corn, green beans, stuffing, all of the different elements, boxed-up pasta, and there's also a dessert in them. There is a balanced meal around the turkey and it helps those in need who may not have any of those pieces or even a meal leading up to Thanksgiving."
BART SCOTT, JASON TAYLOR
Food Bank for New York City, Harlem
Manhattan is known for its flash and affluence, but parts of the Big Apple are still in desperate need of assistance. In the holiday spirit, two Jets were happy to do their part. At the Food Bank for New York City in Harlem, linebackers Scott and Taylor served breakfast for nearly 100 guests and then unloaded over 100 turkeys for Thanksgiving meals next week. The two were joined by Taylor's wife Katina, and all three enjoy the experience.
"We love it," Taylor told Nick Gallo of newyorkjets.com. "It was a great time coming out and kind of putting a face with a name and with a cause. And a chance to shake somebody's hand, give them a hug and take a picture. It means the world to them."
Since 2003, there has been a 60 percent increase in New Yorkers who struggle to afford food, and as a result the number of people attending the Food Bank has continued to increase. Not only did the two members of the Green & White make an impact, but one of the Jets' biggest partners, MetLife, presented a check for $75,000 to the Food Bank to help in its efforts to feed families this winter.
"It means a lot, especially to the community," said Food Bank CEO Lucy Cabrera. "And for them to come on their day off, it's very special. So the community looks forward to it. It's a good day and it's a good start for the season as well."
A mass of New Yorkers flooded the sidewalks of West 116th Street to get a glimpse of their gridiron heroes. Scott and Taylor spent time taking pictures, giving autographs and interacting with the Harlem residents who enjoyed the great breakfast spread they served. As the players brought the turkeys down from the facility's truck, the local members of the community cheered them on.
"This environment is electric," Scott said. "You see the energy from the kids and everybody around. Just to be able to come out and help a tremendous organization like the Food Bank and to be able to feed the kids and help supply them with resources so they can do their job, it's a tremendous feeling."
BEN HARTSOCK, KENWIN CUMMINGS
Community Soup Kitchen and Outreach Center, Morristown, N.J.
Hartsock, the Jets' blocking tight end, and Cummings, the linebacker, visited the center to serve lunch for 250 guests at the soup kitchen, which has provided hot meals 365 days a year for 25 years to the homeless, working poor, elderly and disabled.