Cardinals defensive lineman Ross Kolodzeij helps serve a meal Monday night during the Cards' "Help Feed The Hungry" dinner at Phoenix Rescue Mission.
Safety Oliver Celestin searched for those who needed more fruit punch. Linebacker Chike Okeafor was passing out salads. Long snapper Nathan Hodel carried around desserts.
Meanwhile, the needy men, women and children being served a special holiday dinner at the Phoenix Rescue Mission Monday night beamed at the sight of Arizona Cardinals spending some time in their part of the world.
"Just in terms of excitement and goodwill and joy, these guys have been looking forward to this," said Susan Kryn, the Mission's volunteer and events coordinator. "They started asking me back in September, 'Are the Cardinals coming?'
"You can see this is not so much about eating as having fun and being here. It is really cool."
Besides Celestin, Okeafor and Hodel, defensive lineman Ross Kolodziej, tight end Ben Patrick and quarterback Kurt Warner also came to represent the players. Owner Bill Bidwill, team president Michael Bidwill, coach Ken Whisenhunt's wife Alice and general manager Rod Graves' wife Dreama were also among those who took part, as well as cheerleaders and Big Red.
Not only was food served, but players posed for pictures and signed autographs on Cardinals' gear distributed by the team.
"This is my favorite Cardinals Charities event," Kolodziej said. "There are so many things this time of year to be thankful for, and getting out in the community and being around people who are less fortunate that you are, it's greatly humbling, and it's good to get out and give back to them."
Michael Bidwill said most people "can do more than we are doing" when it comes to giving back to the community.
The event is important to Warner, who brings his family to help every year and passes out books and sweatshirts emblazoned with his First Things First Foundation logo. Then Warner helps serve food, sign autographs, and listens to some of the stories of how people have ended up down on their luck.
In turn, Warner looks to encourage them that better days can be ahead.
"Five years from now, you might run into that guy again and he may be on top somewhere," Warner said. "That's what it is all about, to let these guys know we care about them, to encourage them, and let them know anything is possible."
Warner called coming to help at Monday's dinner "the epitome of why we feel we are in the NFL."
The smiles from those eating the meal seemed to echo the sentiment.
"Giving back to the community is definitely something I want to be involved in," Patrick said. "A situation like this, even me being a rookie that people don't know, this still means a lot to them, us giving back and what this jersey means to them. I take a lot of pride in it."
Contact Darren Urban at firstname.lastname@example.org. Posted 11/20/07