Sunday, April 30, 2006

NFF Celebrates 5th National Play It Smart Week Play It Smart participants volunteer across the country April 29 - May 6

The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame, Inc.
NEWS RELEASE w/pdf and photo

NFF Celebrates 5th National Play It Smart Week Play It Smart participants volunteer across the country April 29 - May 6

MORRISTOWN, N.J., April 27, 2006 – The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame (NFF) announced today that it will hold its 5th Annual Play It Smart Week April 29 - May 6, highlighting the community service aspect of its highly successful mentoring program.

“Community service plays a key role in Play It Smart,” said NFF President Steven J. Hatchell. “By providing leadership opportunities outside of sports, our participants gain a sense of pride in themselves and their communities. Student-athletes often say helping others is their favorite part of the program where they realize that they can make a difference.”

During the 2004-2005 academic year, Play It Smart teams averaged 468 hours of community service, tallying nearly 60,000 hours of service among the 128 schools that participated last year. Launched in 1998 and currently in 136 high schools (listed at in 35 states with 11,000 students, Play It Smart trains “academic” coaches to work with high school football teams in underserved areas during the entire school year, taking the transferable life skills learned on the field and applying them in the classroom and the community.

Wes Butcher, a participant from Clay High School in South Bend, Ind., acknowledges the personal growth he has experienced because of his volunteer experiences.

“Being together for community service helps us to get closer as a team outside of athletics and academics,” he said. “I’m much more of a people person now from working with community service.”

The program has had a remarkable effect on the grades, graduation rates and college enrollment for at-risk high school football players with 98 percent of participants graduating high school and 80 percent enrolling in college.

“In Play It Smart, we make every effort to capitalize on the positive peer pressure of the team,” said Play It Smart National Director Charles Gomes.
“Community service allows us to bring the team together in different settings. We believe community service plays a key role in the team’s success both in the classroom and on the playing field.”

This year, National Play It Smart Week events include hospital and nursing home visits, food banks, Rebuilding Together, neighborhood clean-ups, preparing meals for the homeless, Habitat for Humanity, the Special Olympics, reading to elementary school students and more. See the list below for more details:


Philadelphia, PA; April 29; Ballou HS; Hospital Visit: participants visit a
children's hospital to distribute toys and books.

Pahokee, FL; April 29; Pahokee HS; Pahokee Clean-Up: participants help clean up throughout the city.

Newark, NJ; April 29; Shabazz HS and Weequahic HS; Rebuilding Together:
participants partner with skilled workers to repair a house.

Somerville, MA; April 29; Somerville HS; Somerville Clean-Up: participants clean up the high school and library.

Charlotte, NC; April 29 & May 5-6; West Mecklenburg HS; High School Player
Development: participants and their coaches host a community-wide HSPD clinic.

New Brunswick, NJ April 30; New Brunswick HS; Nursing Home Visit:
participants visit elders at a local nursing home.

San Francisco, CA April 30; Concord HS; Food Kitchen: participants prepare
and serve meals to approximately 250 homeless people.

Philadelphia, PA May 1-5; Germantown HS; Story Time with Tots: participants
read to toddlers at a daycare center.

Baltimore, MD; May 2 & 4; Patterson HS; Special Olympics: participants volunteer for numerous jobs over two days.

Washington, D.C.; May 4; Ballou HS; Book Give-Away: participants provide books and host a pizza party for local elementary school students.

Cincinnati, OH; May 4; Winton Woods HS; School Visit: participants visit a local elementary school.

Chandler, AZ; May 5; Cesar Chavez HS and Chandler HS; Habitat for Humanity:
participants contribute to building a new home.

Alliance, OH; May 6; Alliance HS; ACT Flower Planting: participants plant a flower garden in conjunction with the Alliance for Character Training (ACT).

Long Beach, CA; May 6; Long Beach Poly HS; Punt, Pass & Kick: participants hold a contest for kids ages 8-12.


Portland, OR; May 13; Portland HS; Neighborhood Clean-Up: participants continually work on community clean up projects.

Charlottesville, VA; May 13 - 14; Charlottesville HS; Relay for Life:
participants help with fundraising efforts for the American Cancer Society.

Phoenix, AZ May 19; Chandler HS; Youth Carnival: participants stage a
carnival for local elementary school students.

Chicago, IL May 27; Harlan HS and Hyde Park Academy; Soldier Field Run:
participants assist before, during and after the event.

Indianapolis, IN; Ongoing; Arlington HS; Indianapolis Colts: participants work at various Colts' community relations events.

Washington, D.C.; Ongoing; Ballou HS; DC Literacy Loop: participants tutor elementary school students.

Phoenix, AZ; Ongoing; Cesar Chavez HS; Food Bank: participants gather food for the underprivileged.

Chicago, IL; Ongoing; Dunbar Vocation HS; Chicago White Sox: participants work at various White Sox community relations events.

Chicago, IL; Ongoing; Harlan HS and Hyde Park Academy; Girls in the Game:
participants assist at various events.

Tampa, FL; Ongoing; Robinson HS; Build-A-Bear: participants build teddy bears and deliver to local children's hospital patients.

Somerville, MA; Ongoing; Somerville HS; Literacy Program: participants read to local kindergartners on a weekly basis.

Topeka, KS; Ongoing; Topeka HS; "Athletes Read": participants read stories to local elementary school students.

Tampa, FL; Ongoing; Robinson HS; Habitat for Humanity: participants contribute to building a new home.

Savannah, GA; Ongoing; Bethesda School for Boys Georgia's Annual Olympic
Games: participants assist special needs athletes throughout the event.

Cincinnati, OH; Ongoing; Taft HS; Food Drive: participants assist Free Store to help feed the homeless.

Indianapolis, IN; Ongoing; Arsenal Tech HS and Manual HS; Race for the Cure:
participants volunteer to clean-up for the event.

Chicago, IL; Ongoing; Harlan HS and South Shore HS; Food Depository:
participants collect food and help the organization with its packaging efforts.

New Brunswick, NJ Ongoing; New Brunswick HS; Read Across America:
participants read to and help tutor kindergarteners.

Syracuse, NY; Ongoing; George Fowler HS; Youth Development Centers:
participants fundraise to build community resource and youth centers.

Knoxville, TN; Ongoing; Fulton HS; Community Outreach: participants visit elementary schools, Boys & Girls Clubs and more.

New Haven, CT; Ongoing; Platt HS; Youth Mentoring: participants visit a elementary school every Wednesday.

Denver, CO; Ongoing; Jefferson HS; YMCA: participants work along side the elderly at a YMCA and read at an elementary school.

NFF Contacts:
Phil Marwill, director of communications
Phone: 1-800-486-1865, ext. 118

Hillary Jeffries, special projects assistant
Phone: 1-800-486-1865, ext. 123

With 119 chapters and 12,000 members nationwide, The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame, a non-profit educational organization, runs programs designed to use the power of amateur football in developing scholarship, citizenship and athletic achievement in young people. NFF programs include the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend, Ind., Play It Smart, the NFF Center for Youth Development Through Sport at Springfield College (Mass.), the NFL-NFF Coaching Academy, and scholarships of nearly $1 million for college and high school scholar-athletes. Learn more at

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