Terrell Owens, Buffalo Bills wide receiver, is tackling a major community issue in Western New York as the official spokesperson for the 81tackleshunger fundraising campaign. The campaign coincides with September's Hunger Action Month and replaces the Buffalo Bills' in-stadium Fan Food Drive for the 2009-2010 season.
The theme of the campaign "We need 81 from everyone," plays off Owens' jersey number and requests that every individual donates at least 81 cents and every business donates $81.00 to assist the Food Bank in its efforts to feed 96,000 less fortunate Western New Yorkers.
"We all need to be aware of hunger in the world, including in our own backyard," said Owens. "I am proud to support the Food Bank of Western New York, and I know my fans will step up and help those families who are less fortunate."
"Thirty nine percent of those served by the Food Bank of Western New York's member agencies are children, while 11% are senior citizens." says Marylou Borowiak, Food Bank of WNY president & CEO. "The generosity of Western New Yorkers who support the Food Bank by donating to fundraising efforts such as 81tackleshunger goes a long way toward our mission. We are very grateful to Tops Friendly Markets, SKM Group, the Buffalo Bills and Terrell Owens for launching the 81tackleshunger campaign on our behalf."
At a kickoff event held at the Food Bank of WNY headquarters in Buffalo yesterday, Owens graciously took photos and mingled with donors, and urged fans to help the cause.
Owens said, "My family is the most important thing to me. I know first-hand we didn't have the best of the best. My mom had to work two or three jobs. It was a no-brainer to lend my support."
Donations can be made online atwww.81tackleshunger.com, in person at any of the 40 participating Tops Friendly Market stores in Erie, Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, and Niagara counties, via mail to the Food Bank (donation form available atwww.81tackleshunger.com) or over the phone at 716-852-1305.
Every $1.00 donated helps the Food Bank of WNY distribute seven pounds of food to the less fortunate in the four-county service area. Individuals donating to the campaign will be eligible to win an autographed Terrell Owens jersey. The campaign runs through the end of September.
Businesses donating to the campaign will be eligible to win tickets to upcoming Buffalo Bills home games as well as autographed Terrell Owens merchandise. Full details and rules are available at www.81tackleshunger.com. Private funding has been donated to support this campaign on behalf of the Food Bank of Western New York.
As part of its sponsorship, Tops presented a check for $5,000 to the Food Bank of WNY – or the equivalent of 27,452 meals. "Eradicating hunger in our community is part of Tops' mission," says Frank Curci, Tops president & CEO. "And our long association with the Buffalo Bills made sponsoring the 81tackleshunger campaign a natural. We know the generosity of Western New Yorkers will make this campaign a huge success for the Food Bank."
In addition, as part of the 81tackleshunger campaign, PLB Sports, Tops Friendly Markets and Terrell Owens teamed up to donate 50 cases of T.O. cereal to the Food Bank of Western New York.
In support of the long-standing relationship between the Food Bank, the Buffalo Bills and Bills owner Ralph Wilson and his wife, Mary – and in keeping with the theme of the campaign – Terrell Owens presented a check from the Wilsons for $8,100 to the 81tackleshunger campaign.
The Food Bank of WNY, founded in 1979, obtains food and support from public and private sources and efficiently redistributes these resources to affiliated charitable providers such as soup kitchens, pantries and shelters. It distributes more than one million pounds of food each month to more than 96,000 individuals (39 percent of whom are children and 11 percent of whom are seniors) through some 400 member agencies in Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie and Niagara counties. For more information, visit www.foodbankwny.org.