ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --One out of every seven Coloradans doesn't know where his or her next meal is coming from. The number -- one out of every four -- is even more staggering with children.
With that in mind, the Broncos made sure one of their initiatives during their Be a Champion in the Community Week helped Food Bank of the Rockies distribute food in areas of need.
"It's absolutely wonderful for a couple reasons," Kevin Seggelke, president and CEO of Food Bank of the Rockies, said of the Broncos' involvement. "We all know it's a Broncos state -- always has been, always will be. I think the community really gathers around the Broncos when they're playing, and it's nice to see them helping out the community when the community needs them as well. I can tell you it means a great deal to these folks. A lot of them are seeing their heroes for the first time. I think it makes them feel that, 'Hey, I'm not alone. People care about me and people want to help me.'"
Broncos players, staff and cheerleaders headed to three locations on Thursday to help hand out food to those in need, including the Moorhead Recreation Center.
There, Blake Gideon, Virgil Green, Joe Mays and Julius Thomas were part of an assembly line, handing out food that included some fruits and vegetables those in line might not be able to see or afford on a daily basis. Denver Broncos Cheerleaders Toni and Kendal also signed autographs for those in attendance.
"It's definitely humbling," Green said. "Julius and I were just talking -- we may go to the grocery store and sometimes complain about even just having to get up and go. These people here in a situation like this, it's definitely something that humbles you and makes you appreciate everything that we take for granted."
Mays even helped carry the groceries to people's cars after he was finished bagging them.
"Me carrying groceries, this is the easiest part of my day compared to working out and being in meetings," he smiled. "I think I'd much rather be out here helping the folks out. Walking around with groceries, stuff like that, it's easy for me."
Dozens if not hundreds of people lined up for the event, as Food Bank of the Rockies' Chief Development Officer Kim Ruotsala said events like this are scheduled, but the news also spreads via word-of-mouth.
The mobile pantry program works with more than 1,000 other programs like church shelters and daycare centers to distribute food in low-income areas.
At the event, those in line receive food for the next week.
"It means so much to us, as the Food Bank, the partnership we have with the Broncos and how great they are with the community," Ruotsala said. "For community individuals who are here in line getting food, it is another sign of how great Colorado is. How great our community is. It gives them something fun to look forward to instead of just another day of, 'Where am I going to get my next meal?'"
At two local schools, another group of Broncos that included Jeremiah Johnson, Lance Ball, Ben Garland, Chris Harris, Steven Johnson, Chris Clark, Orlando Franklin, Rahim Moore, Knowshon Moreno and Quentin Saulsberry helped with the Totes of Hope program. Children that are part of the food bank's Kids Cafe program, which helps provide their meals at school during the week, are then given totes full of food to take home during the weekend and share with their families.
After working with the Food Bank on Thursday, a different group of Broncos comrprised entirely of rookies headed to the Denver Broncos Boys & Girls Club in Montbello. There, they hung out with the kids all afternoon and the Denver Broncos Cheerleaders held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a brand new dance studio inside the club.
"As a team, we made a commitment to doing a lot of work in the community," Thomas said. "I think it says the kind of guys we have in our locker room that we're willing to come out here and give our time, and we actually appreciate doing this. This isn't something that we were dreading, we look forward to coming out and spending time in the community, just showing people how much we appreciate what they do for us throughout the year."