ENGLEWOOD, Colo. –Broncos safety Duke Ihenacho knew he wanted to make an impact during the Thanksgiving season by helping families in need, so he reached out to the Denver Rescue Mission and lent a hand to a special cause.
On Tuesday afternoon, Ihenacho joined the Denver Rescue Mission at Cherry Hills Community Church for their annual turkey drive – bringing with him an autographed jersey and two tickets to the Broncos' regular-season home finale vs. the Chargers. The items were used for a drawing with the condition that anyone who brought a frozen turkey would have a chance to win them, and Ihenacho was quick to spread the word.
Ihenacho took to Twitter to encourage fans to donate frozen turkeys and support the Denver Rescue Mission.
"I tried to use the stage that I'm on to get people to do things that are good for the community and good for families," Ihenacho said. "I used my jersey and some tickets as an incentive, kind of, for people to want to come down and want to donate turkeys. But truly the most important thing is bringing turkeys and donating so that you can help families in need."
Denver Rescue Mission Director of Public Relations Alexxa Gagner said that Ihenacho came up with the idea to help out with the organization's turkey drive – which is ongoing and aims to collect at least 15,000 donated frozen turkeys.
"It's absolutely amazing. We are just so thrilled to have Duke out here today spreading the word for our need for turkeys," Gagner said. "He actually got in touch with us last week and just said, 'Hey, I really want to do something. I want to help you guys out.' He said he wanted to do a drawing and he wanted to bring his jersey – and just was so kind and generous to support our mission."
Ihenacho noted that getting involved with a Thanksgiving-related community cause was something that had been on his mind months in advance.
"I've been thinking about it since the beginning of the season," Ihenacho said at the event. "I figured I really wanted to do something when Thanksgiving time rolled around. When I thought about it one day, last week, I went to (Broncos Director of Community Development Kelly Woodward) and she put me in contact* *with the Denver Rescue Mission."
"And I guess, like they say, the rest is history."
Ultimately, being able to help less-fortunate families during a time of togetherness is cause that Ihenacho noted resonates with special significance.
"Growing up, my family was pretty big on Thanksgiving and it was one of my favorite holidays – one of my favorite times of the year – just because I could be with my family, enjoy a Thanksgiving meal and enjoy the environment," Ihenacho said. "A lot of people are not fortunate enough to have that and I think everybody should. There are a lot of families that could use that Thanksgiving meal and that Thanksgiving holiday."
"You can brighten a lot of people's day and do a lot things for a lot of families by just donating a turkey."