Renaissance Meadowlands Hotel was buzzing with volunteers wanting to lend a hand this Super Bowl. The Annual Super Baskets of Hope Packing event kicked off the week on a compassionate note.
Over 2,633 baskets and 2,633 totes were filled with gifts to be given to children diagnosed with cancer or long term illness a crossed the nation. Each basket was filled with age and gender appropriate games, crafts, toys, books, and other items for kids and their siblings. The totes are offered as an option for the parents and are filled with a Bible, journal, inspirational books, and a hope necklace.
Headed by Former Buffalo Bill and St. Louis Ram Rian Neil and his wife Tiffany, other NFL players came to support including cornerback for the Washington Redskins, Deangelo Hall and running back for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Brian Leonard.
Hall and his wife Jada came to pack baskets early Monday morning and will take 200 baskets to distribute to local hospitals in their hometown. “My wife found out about this and I’m all in. Our family has jumped on board and we will give all the support we can. We will bring a Chapter to Atlanta where we call home. I plan to enlist some of my old Falcons buddies Matt Ryan and Roddy White to help us pass out the baskets out in the hospitals. Also since I play for the Redskins we will look into starting a chapter there, to the DC area. Hopefully we can expand this thing and keep it going.”
The Neil’s have been involved for many years and remain passionate about the organization. Tiffany explained, “We got involved when Rian was playing with the Rams in St. Louis and fell in love with the organization. From there we decided to start a chapter here in Jersey where we both grew up and went to college at Rutgers.”
Rian was first impacted by the cause when he delivered his first basket, “I saw the impact this can have on the children that are in the hospitals. Sometimes children are there for a long period of time and some children have very few family members supporting them.”
Through the generosity of its volunteers and donors, the baskets will be shipped out as needed to NFL cities were families are in need. “We really as a branch wanted to make an impact, not only here but also in all the 32 cities. We are excited to do this and bless as many people we can (with these baskets of hope),” Mrs. Neill concluded.
Baskets of Hope provides gifts to children diagnosed with cancer or other serious illness. The baskets are delivered by volunteers who spend time meeting with the family. Basket of Hope customizes each basket with age appropriate toys, games, crafts, etc. for the child and siblings. Basket of Hope began in 1995 after 7-year-old Christina Brunette completed her cancer treatment at SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center in St. Louis, Missouri. Her family, thankful for her treatment and wanting to give back, developed the Basket of Hope program working closely with Cardinal Glennon staff members. Basket of Hope has delivered thousands of baskets across the nation. There are currently 20 participating hospitals.Hope totes, donated by Vera Bradley, are also delivered and offered as an option for parents. They contain a Bible, journal, “Uncommon”, by Tony Dungy and donated by Tony Dungy Family Foundation, uplifting music and inspirational books. FedEx provides free delivery of the baskets & totes to hospitals across the country.
To volunteer with the New Jersey Chapter email, firstname.lastname@example.org
–Rick Graessle contributed to this story
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