The Cardinals have enjoyed a successful 2021 season on the field. Now, with a much-needed Thanksgiving bye Week 12, the focus shifted on helping others.
It's why many organization members gave back Monday night at the team's 19th annual "Feed The Hungry" event at Phoenix Rescue Mission. The Covid outbreak forced a cancellation of the event in last year, but its return brought much excitement despite the ongoing pandemic.
Nicole Bidwill, Cardinals alumni Michael Bankston, Rick Cunningham, Derek Kennard, and Patrick Hunter were joined by Big Red, Cardinals cheerleaders, and staff to serve a Thanksgiving meal to the less fortunate.
"It's easy to look at this as a small or grand impact," clinic director TaMella Pierce said. "The reality is the rescue mission invests in people, and we transform our communities one life at a time."
Nicole Bidwill, dressed in a Cardinals hat and black apron, handed out dinners. She called it an honor to give back and support those in need, satisfied when seeing the joy displayed on faces of the kids in attendance.
"Just seeing all the cute kids so happy and to have the support of this wonderful organization," Bidwill said. "And I get the fun job of squirting whip cream on their pies, and it's so fun, the kids love it.
"I've gotten so many hugs from the kids; they're so loving and fun. We're so happy to support them as their mom's and dad's get back on their feet."
The organization handed out scarves and lanyards in addition to food. Bankston, a former Cardinals defensive end who played nine years in the NFL, helped serve food. He also offered words of encouragement.
Bankston began doing community work before Monday's event. He has served the homeless, helped provide haircuts with his wife, and participated in the Dress for Success cause. The small things from the event gave him the most satisfaction.
"One of the things I did beforehand, and one of the ladies said, 'Thank you for that prayer," said Bankston. "That meant a lot; to see that prayer touch her life and her heart. Hopefully, God answers that prayer and continues to move her along."
Nicole Bidwill, Big Red and the Cardinals teamed up for a holiday meal at the Changing Lives Center in Phoenix for the 19th annual "Feed The Hungry" event.