Giving back is engrained into the culture of this Buffalo Bills team.
For the fourth year, a handful of the Bills' coaches took time out of their day to serve meals to those at the Buffalo City Mission.
Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, special teams coordinator Matthew Smiley, assistant wide receivers coach Marc Lubick, defensive assistant Jaylon Finner, defensive quality control coach Kyle Shurmur, fellowship coach Austin Gund, and team chaplain Len Vanden Bos were all in attendance Wednesday and served meals to those at the mission.
"It's a great opportunity anytime the Buffalo Bills can give back to the community," Frazier said before lunch. "And coming down to the Buffalo City Mission has been a part of our offseason, probably since we've gotten here. I know it's something Coach McDermott and the Pegulas really encourage for our coaching staff.
"So, to be able to come out and give back is a big deal. And our players like doing the same thing and now to have our coaches involved, giving back to the communities is a big part of who we are."
This highly anticipated event had music by DJ Yes and DJ Milk and the meals prepared by Chef Darian Bryan of The Plating Society. For lunch, he cooked up curry chicken with jasmine rice and green beans along with a wide selection of desserts for the guests.
"It is great," Bryan said. "It's my second time doing this for the City Mission, and it just warms my heart every time I do it. Because these folks, it means a lot to us because I go around town and I cook for the rich and famous all the time. I just want to give back to my community and this is the way I give back. I love every single minute of it."
This lunch is so special for the coaches and all those at the city mission. Stuart Harper, the executive director and CEO of the Buffalo City Mission, explained how much this annual event means to the residents.
"It's great having the Bills' coaches here and having the Plating Society here cooking the meal," Harper said. "It's awesome for us to have them here, particularly with all the new things that are happening with the Bills. All the excitement that's being generated by all the new pick-ups but also the new coaches coming in. It's a really exciting time for them, which makes it really exciting for us, and our men love being part of this."
In addition to the meals, music, and a meet and greet with the coaches, they also received some mini Bills footballs, 2021 Bills yearbooks, and signed photos of Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs to make the day even more memorable. Buffalo City Mission's senior manager of marketing, communications, and volunteers, Heather Mattiuzzo, said that the residents' moods improve throughout the week because of the excitement and anticipation for this event.
"It blows their mind that these Bills' coaches that work with these Bills' players are taking the time out of their day to serve them, talk with them and get to know them on a more personal level," Mattiuzzo shared. "And so, these guys talk about this event for months and months after they already leave. So, we're already looking forward to when they come back next year."
For Frazier, not being able to serve the members of the community in 2020 was hard for him. He was so glad to be able to come back last year and again this year. He hopes to continue the tradition as long as he is in Buffalo. He's thankful that he's able to give back and looks forward to it every offseason as much as the residents do.
"Well, that's one of the benefits of what we do for a living," Frazier said. "There are so many people that look up to professional athletes, and in our case, as coaches and then as players able to come back and bring a smile to someone's face. They see us on TV, and then they get a chance to see us in person and to get a chance to see that we're real people just like them.
"And we know at this moment where they're at a moment of despair, they're going through a hard time we just want to be able to bring some joy to their life, even if it's just for a few minutes. And this allows us to do that by being able to be out and be able to be seen in person."
In addition to the meal, the Buffalo Bills also donated over 1,000 toiletry items including toothbrushes, hand sanitizer, body wash, razors, soap, and deodorant for those at the city mission.