As San Francisco gets ready to cheer on the 49ers at this Sunday’s Super Bowl, here at GLIDE, we are reminded of the wonderful work of the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, which took place on December 29, 2012. For the past four years, the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl has selected GLIDE as one of three local beneficiary for their annual game. On Christmas Day 2012, the Arizona State University Sun Devils spent a day in service in GLIDE’s Daily Free Meals Program, connecting players with the greater cause of their exciting game at AT&T Park.
Today’s blog comes to us from Amy Gardner, Kraft Bowl’s Corporate and Community Engagement Manager. She shares inspiring story of service and transformation in both herself, and the college football players she organizes.
My passion in life is, and always has been, teamwork.
Growing up as an athlete, I’ve been perpetually in awe of what people can do when they work together. As a result, when I graduated from college, I decided that I wanted to spend my life working as part of a team to see how I/we might be able to use sports as a vehicle to help make a difference in the community. I’ve been fortunate enough to do so as a part of the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. With that in mind, my GLIDE story follows.
My first GLIDE experience was years ago in elementary school when my class took a field trip to San Francisco to help make bagged lunches. But my real “coming to GLIDE” story starts many years later.
In 2009, I had an internship with the Emerald Bowl – the Bay Area’s only post-season college football game. Each year, the Bowl would bring a select number of players from each team into the community to volunteer, and that year was the first year the Bowl brought players to GLIDE. I volunteered to help at the event, and much to my parents’ chagrin, late on Christmas morning I headed to GLIDE to help manage the team visit. Fifteen players from each team were fortunate enough to be in attendance that Christmas, and I am forever grateful to have been there to watch the magic at GLIDE unfold.
The following year, the Bowl became the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, and for the last three years, we have brought all 100 members of one of our participating teams to GLIDE.
Each year the players may be different, but the result is the same. Over the course of their shift, the players transform. Many of the athletes arrive having never volunteered, and upon entering GLIDE, they are often a little nervous and unsure of what is happening next. But once the hairnet goes on, the first meal is served, and the first “Thank You” is received from one of GLIDE’s guests, the change begins to take place. The team begins to relax and embrace the experience much more than they ever thought possible.
GLIDE provides a safe space for real life epiphanies to happen. As a first-time volunteer, many of the players enter the Dining Room expecting to find an environment of great dichotomy between the volunteers and the guests. Instead, love emanates from all around, removing our blinders and allowing us to realize that we are all the same. The people in that dining room are people – just like you and me – and they could easily be your mother, your sister, your best friend, or someday, yourself.
By the time the shift is over, most of the players have had multiple conversations they will never forget. As the players leave with smiles on their faces, one thing becomes apparent – GLIDE has changed these young men. As they go back into their own communities as adults, they are now more likely than ever to give back because they have experienced the joy that helping others can bring to everyone.
We all go home that day knowing that we’ve helped create the type of caring, thoughtful and generous citizens we would all want to be on our team. GLIDE did that. GLIDE does that every day. Thank you for letting me be a part of it.