Rookie 49ers defensive lineman Pierre Garçon, U.S. born and of Haitian decent, has responded to the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that rocked Haiti more than a week ago, by donating to Beacon Hill Preparatory Elementary School in Miami, FL.
In turn, Beacon Hill will funnel all donations to Food for the Poor foundation, a non-profit organization aiding Haitian earthquake relief efforts.
Jean Francois' personal involvement and a general sense of responsibility deeply touched his teammates and the entire 49ers family. Team owners, Denise and John York, along with the 49ers Foundation, have pledged to match all donations towards the Haiti relief effort up to $10,000, from the organization's players, coaches and staff. All collected funds will be donated to the American Red Cross and their fight to help manage the disaster.
For Jean Francois, the catastrophe hit particularly close to home. As the 49ers season wound down after the New Year, Jean Francois had planned to visit the land of his decent with his father – a trip that would connect him to his roots. But, before the Jean Francois men could embark, tragedy struck.
"At every point, everybody needs help. Haiti is my country, and I want to help as much as I can," Jean Francois said. "I see my dad, and he's looking helpless, like he can't do anything."
While Jean Francois deals with the personal tragedy that befell his country, fearing multiple family members might be lost, he's itching to get to the country to provide help. His once-planned vacation to his homeland has now become an all-out blitz to get to the country to help.
"My father, my advisor and I are going for sure," Jean Francois said. "I'm also going to ask some friends and some teammates as well."
But, while he's waiting for his passport to process, Jean Francois is using every medium available to him to plead for others to take up his enthusiasm. Aside from placing countless calls to friends, Jean Francois has used his Twitter account and e-mail to reach out to any and all willing to help.
"It's to the point where these people don't have anything at all," Jean Francois said. "They don't even have the medical support. They don't have any food. The water is dirty. There is no way for many people to get help.
"I'm tired of seeing pictures on the internet and CNN showing that our country is sad. It's time to give this sad story a happy ending. Let's show people how we can help. I want to see everything come together."
-To follow Ricky Jean Francois' lead and donate, visit www.foodforthepoor.com