To start the holiday season of giving, 49ers alumni and volunteered their time Tuesday afternoon at the Sacred Heart Community Service Agency in San Jose. The alums spent time interacting with hundreds of people requiring services as they unloaded and sorted donations, organized clothing and made family food bags and lunches.
Former 49ers greats Dwight Clark, Dave Fiore, Steve Bono, Dennis Brown, Mervyn Fernandez, Guy McIntyre, and Darryl Pollard, along with volunteers from Visa, got involved putting in work at each station.
"I bike up and down the Campbell bike trail every day and it is lined with people who don't have a place they call home," Fernandez said. "Today I'm here packing survival backpacks for hopefully some of those people. I am so blessed, and to come here and physically do something to change the bad situations some people are in, it's just a way for me to show that I care about my community and care about making a difference."
The Sacred Heart Community Service Agency serves more than 50,000 individuals annually, and aims to combine essential services with programs that foster self-sufficiency. Their services include food, clothing, housing and utility assistance, as well as employment, family mentoring, citizenship and education programs.
For Sacred Heart, having the 49ers alumni join their service volunteers represented a large part of their mission, which focuses on the community bettering itself.
"People look up to these guys, and if they see that they're here working with us and giving back to the community it may inspire people to get involved, to come work with us or work with a non-profit organization in their neighborhood," said Matt King, Community Services Coordinator for Sacred Heart. "Besides the essential services that we provide like emergency housing, food, and clothing, our goal is to give people the opportunity to make the community better by offering educational services, mentoring, housing assistance, and at a higher level, getting other people involved in volunteering."
The event directly aligns with the 49ers year-long, award-winning RESPECT campaign of respect for families, schools and communities.
"Sacred Heart does a great job of reaching every aspect of community service," explained Heather Curry, 49ers Community Relations Coordinator. "The partnership between our organizations made a lot of sense, and we are pleased to be able to directly impact the San Jose community through our work with them today."
Working at the Sacred Heart Community Services Agency also made an impact on the alumni.
"The amazing statistic that I heard was 7,000 homeless people a night sleep in the San Jose area. That's crazy," Clark said. "So I'm happy to be here and help the 49ers help out the community."