It was a busy day at the Denver Broncos Boys & Girls Club on Tuesday, as the club hosted a volunteer meal-packaging event with Broncos players, Denver police officers and children from the club to support Feeding Children Everywhere and an eye-examination day for Von's Vision.
DENVER — As Broncos players, members of the Denver Police Department and children from the Denver Broncos Boys & Girls Club gathered together Tuesday in the club's gymnasium, the shared commonality between all of them was clear: an unwavering love for the community in which they reside.
What had drawn them into the same room was the opportunity to package 12,000 individual meals for families in need through the club, Food Bank of the Rockies and Volunteers of America Colorado.
But what brought them together was the goal — and the added value of a little competition, as players, officers and kids were split up into five groups, forming an assembly line of sorts to package stroganoff Hamburger Hero meals individually before then packaging them into boxes.
The competition was enough to even draw in Von Miller, who was in another room supporting his Von's Vision foundation as it did eye exams for children.
"The competition was crazy," Justin Simmons said. "At first it was a friendly competition, and then Von came in and he hopped on at our table, and all of a sudden, our table's getting a bunch of hate. So we got a taste of what it was like to be Von for a little bit. But no, all jokes aside, it was fun, though. Every box that you completed, we had a little bell that we rang. You hear someone ring a bell and then you've kind of got the tension going up. You got the butterflies, and then you want to package faster. It was a lot of fun, though, packaging and making a little competition out of it. It's hard for everyone not to enjoy a bit of a competition."
As bells clanged and teams tried to work harder, they relied on their teamwork, passing scoops of dry macaroni pasta down the line to people bagging, then to those adding expiration-date tags and then finally to the people loading the boxes.
When it was all over, there was a little boasting, but more than that, there was a shared spirit of achievement and camaraderie, as groups took pride in knowing that the impact of their time together will make an impact.
About 10 percent of Colorado residents are food insecure and unsure of how they may get their next meal. Feeding Children Everywhere, the non-profit organization that aims to help end hunger in part through volunteer events like this, has distributed over 115 million meals to children and families in need since 2010.
"It's just something that you always talk about doing, giving back to the community," Simmons said. "And the best part is the Broncos have always had such a rich background in giving back to the community. Seeing 10, 12, 13 guys that come out and volunteer, give their time to help their community out: It's what you do it for. Then you see the kids, and all they want to do is talk football.
"And on top of this being [National Police Week], it just keeps adding up. So doing stuff like this is more than football."
The officers, who represent police districts 1-6, may have been off-duty, but they were happy to spend some of their down time working as they got to know some of the children at the Boys & Girls Club.
"I thought it was a great idea [and a] really cool outcome," Simmons said. "We had a blast just getting to shake hands with the people that actually are making a huge impact in our communities. I know everybody loves to praise football players for going out and playing games on Sunday, but people like that are the real heroes."