By Cameron Buford, whatsgoodinsports.com
Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve chronicled what local teams and foundations have done to aid communities and families suffering from the financial impact of this nasty coronavirus shutdown. As you might have imagined organizations and foundations across the nation have been stepping up to make their presence felt in their various communities. This article will focus on the efforts of the leaders in the South Jersey/ Philadelphia region and what they are doing to assist those that have been adversely impacted by the recent pandemic.
Co-founders Josh Harris and David Blitzer, of Harris Blitzer Sports and Entertainment (HBSE), also owns the New Jersey Devils. Their Devils Care Foundation recently created a program that provides groceries to families of Newark in need during the coronavirus pandemic.
“This food relief program, which will benefit thousands of families in Newark, would not have been possible without a critical donation from Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment (HBSE) and the New Jersey Devils,” Newark Mayor Ras Baraka recently commented.
As with most schools across the country, the 122,000-plus schools in the District of Philadelphia have been closed due to this crisis. It has recently been announced that managing Partner Josh Harris, Co-Managing Partner David Blitzer, and the Philadelphia 76ers have stepped up to fund the purchase of 10,000 additional Chromebooks to aid distance learning for all students in the District.
This funding makes it possible for students, in grades 3 through 12, to continue to learn while unable to attend school due to their closing. In turn, leveling the playing field by equipping those underprivileged kids in the Philadelphia School District with the tools they need for success.
Superintendent William R. Hite, Jr., Ed.D. proudly states “We are ecstatic to learn that the Sixers are helping our students get computers in their homes so they can continue to learn during what is an unprecedented time for all of us.” He continued on to say, “Our hometown team has come through in such an amazing way, proving that they are the true MVPs.”
“We’re impressed that they stepped up this quickly to help purchase the computers that are urgently needed for our students,” explained Donna Frisby Greenwood, President & CEO, after saying that “Josh Harris, David Blitzer, and the entire Sixers organization have been great partners to the District over the years with the team’s focus on supporting the youth in our region.”
As if this wasn’t enough, earlier in the month, Josh Harris, Blitzer, and the 76ers have agreed to provide funds to aid in the purchase of critical equipment and supplies, including a variety of personal protective equipment (PPE), including N95 respirators, surgical masks, gloves, gowns, cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer, eye protection, and other critically needed medical equipment, such as ventilators to the Cooper University Health Care. The Cooper Foundation was founded by urging of the community to respond to a nationwide emergency.
These contributions have not gone unrecognized as stated by Kevin O’Dowd, JD, Co-President/CEO of Cooper, “We are incredibly thankful and appreciative of the generous donation and also the tremendous partnership we have developed with Josh Harris, David Blitzer, and the Philadelphia 76ers to support our community.” Anthony J. Mazzarelli, MD, JD, MBE, Co-President/CEO of Cooper added, “Cooper’s clinical and support staff are among the most skilled, compassionate, and dedicated healthcare professionals and this contribution will directly provide needed resources to help those on the front-line providing care.”
This contribution comes months after the 76ers announced that they have entered into a community-focused partnership with Camden’s Cooper University Health Care, which made Cooper an Official Partner. In this partnership, the 76ers will collaborate on a variety of community-based initiatives including youth basketball camps and educational programs, playground renovations, and numerous other activities benefitting residents of Camden.
The 76ers players even joined the spirit of helping those in the community. Joel Embiid has recently pledged $500,000 to support medical relief efforts “It’s not as easy as simply writing the check,” said Embiid. In keeping with the phrased he popularized, “It’s a process, to figure out the best way you feel comfortable helping.”
After researching and consulting with Dr. David T. Martin from Apeiron Life and Dr. Brian Sennett from Penn Medicine, Embiid was told funding for antibody testing was one of the highest priorities. In his own words, he now knows that “testing for COVID-19 antibodies has the chance to let health care workers know if they are immune to the virus.” As been reported Embiid’s teammate and long time NBA veteran Al Horford has also recently donated $500,000 to aid coronavirus response supports in his home country of the Dominican Republic, in addition to each of the regions he’s played basketball in. This includes Michigan, Gainesville, FL., Atlanta, Boston, and Philadelphia. Ben Simmons has spearheaded the two-part, Philly Pledge to allow any and everyone in the region to come together and support the communities to fight against COVID19 and food insecurity. As Ben states in his message he wants “to show support to those nonprofit organizations” impacting lives in the community.
The first part of the Philly Pledge is PHL COVID-19; which has been set up as a direct response to help the nonprofit sector continue to do what they do best – assist at-risk community groups such as the elderly, disabled, homeless and economically disadvantaged through a range of essential social services.
The second part of the Philly Pledge is Philabundance; this is the Delaware Valleys largest hunger-relief organization, acquiring, rescuing and distributing food to help feed 90,000 people each week. 1 in 5 Philly residents faces food insecurity. This initiative purchases and accepts donated food and distributed over 26 million pounds in 2019 through a network of over 350 member agencies.
Just as the local team governors, foundations, local residents, and superstars have supported the Philly Pledge to assist those less fortunate who are enduring challenges during these difficult times. Comedian Kevin Hart, Rapper Lil Dicky, fellow 76er Tobias Harris, Raul Neto, and Norvel Pelle, Philly’s Bryce Harper and Aaron Nola, Legendary Eagle Ron Jaworski, Flyers Carter Hart, and Philadelphia native and Broadcaster Natalie Egenolf have all shown their support and urge others to do so if able.
American industrialist and business magnate, and chief inventor of the assembly line Henry Ford summarize what giving back meant to him: “to do more for the world than the world does for you, that is success.” These are just the examples of graciousness and giving back which we enjoy highlighting and promoting via www.whatsgoodinsports.com.
Kindly share your thoughts and any other contributions from members of the sports community, that we may have overlooked by reaching out to me on Twitter @whatsgoodnsport or forward any links to firstname.lastname@example.org. Additionally, be sure to subscribe to our weekly “Voice of the Fans Podcast” which is available for you on most podcasting platforms, Apple and Google Podcasts including Spotify, TuneIn, and iHeart Radio. As always, Thank You for making our voice, your choice!