*Clements Honored as National Neighborhood MVP at Local Playground Build; *Rossum Adds to Build with Surprise Backpack Giveaway
On Tuesday, November 11, Nate Clements, cornerback for the San Francisco 49ers was honored as a National Neighborhood MVP from the NFL. Clements, after returning less than ten hours earlier from his Monday Night Football game in Arizona, along with Sourdough Sam and members of the local community joined forces to build an entire playground for Peabody Elementary School in the Richmond District of San Francisco.
"It was definitely an honor to be named a NFL Neighborhood MVP. It was all for a good cause, we all volunteered for a common goal to reward the kids at the school by putting up a new playground and giving them a better learning environment."
For being chosen a NFL Neighborhood MVP, Clements was given a $1,000 check from NFL National Neighborhood MVP Program to go towards a charity of his choice. Clements chose the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society as Leukemia is a soft spot in his heart.
"This foundation hits close to home because I have an aunt who is diagnosed with Leukemia, she's been battling with that for a few years now," said Clements. "So it hit close to home, that's why I decided to give all the donations and proceeds to that foundation."
The elementary school was also in for another visit when San Francisco 49ers returner Allen Rossum gave a surprise appearance in the afternoon during the playground build to not only assist with the final touches of the playground but to also deliver backpacks and school supplies for the 30 elementary school students at the build at Peabody Elementary School.
Rossum's backpack giveaway is a part of a larger effort from Rossum's foundation, Healthy Kids Klub. Rossum heard about Nate's opportunity to help the elementary school and with his previous experience of contributing to over five playground builds throughout the country, Rossum wanted to donate his time during his off day as well.
"Today, I came out here to build the playground and there was an opportunity as well to give the backpacks away to the kids and help them with school supplies," said Rossum. "Any time you have the opportunity to come into a community and help out, especially the community you play in, I think it's our obligation to do that."
The playground build is part of The NFL Neighborhood MVP program that recognizes and celebrates NFL players for their commitment to giving back to their local communities. Clements was one of 17 players selected league-wide for his support of local Habitat for Humanity affiliates and countless nonprofits in the Bay Area supporting education and recreation programs for underprivileged youth.
Despite arriving home to their practice facilities in Santa Clara after 2 a.m. from their Monday Night Football game in Arizona the night before, both Clements and Rossum jumped right in and went to work as soon as they arrived at the school taking part in wheelbarrow dumps, hammering and building play structures. Clements and Rossum joined over 160 volunteers to turn a once unsafe playground into a beautiful and welcoming play area. Although unable to play on the structure for two weeks as padding still needs to be placed, the children and Principal Willem Vroegh are very excited about the help from the 49ers and the NFL to make this happen.
"It shows our kids that there's a larger community out there that cares about them and wants them to have a nice play environment and a nice school," said Principal Vroegh. "Before, the structure was about 30 years old and it seemed like every other week a part on it was breaking. It was an accident waiting to happen. It's important that there's a safe thing for students to play on."
Principal Vroegh also mentioned Clements efforts at the build which further validated why he was chosen as one of the National Neighborhood MVP's.
"Nate was great - he was working harder than I was for sure," said Principal Vroegh. "I thought he would just show up and shake some hands, but he was in there. He was doing it for a long time. I was really impressed that it wasn't about him. He was here to help build a playground. He was low key. He was talking to the groups he was working with and he felt really genuine about the whole thing. You could see that he really wanted to be here and was here to work and not for the press."
The San Francisco 49ers pride themselves on their ability to give back to the community and help youth understand the role of respect while staying safe, on track, and in school. Peabody Elementary School's mission is clearly similar as they teach their students what respect is at an early age as one of the five-year-old students at the elementary school, Tal, said the following during the build.
"Respect is helping clean up...it's all the good things. It's respect, effort, and getting your work done."