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Helping The Hungry

Annual trek to Phoenix Rescue Mission benefits needy and the Cards


Running back Jason Wright talks to some of the men eating at Monday's "Feed the Hungry" meal at Phoenix Rescue Mission. For a photo gallery, click here.

Jason Wright spied the man who called himself "Ray-Ray," trying to come back for a third helping of the meal.

"Ray-Ray was a trip," the Cardinals running back said while in the middle of the Cards' annual "Feed The Hungry" holiday meal at the Phoenix Rescue Mission Monday evening. "I told him, if he sat down one more time, I'd have to call him out."

Wright laughed as he recounted the story. But then he added that it led to a good conversation between he and Ray-Ray.

"People end up in these situations because they get real hopeless," Wright said. "Just chatting with them a little bit, maybe I can provide a little hope, because only by chance I am not in their shoes."

The Cards have been going to the Rescue Mission for many years now. The contingent was large again this year, with Bill and Michael Bidwill leading a group that included Big Red, player and coaches wives – including Alice Whisenhunt and Dreama Graves – and Cardinals Lyle Sendlein, Matt Ware, Levi Brown, Andre Roberts, Jay Feely, Mike Leach and Wright.

The group helps serve a holiday meal to waves of needy people, and also signed autographs, posed for pictures and handed out Cardinals hats.

(And Tuesday morning, Calais Campbell did his part, distributing 40 turkeys to needy families in the Chandler school district.)

"We are all so blessed, anyone in the NFL," Feely said. "The fact there people that are hungry in our country on a daily basis, it hits home when you can just give them a meal."

Nicole Pena, the Rescue Mission's director of community relations, said some of the regulars to the mission begin asking in June when the Cardinals will be coming in the fall.

"It's so powerful for the guys," Pena said. "It's one of those inspiring things that the Cardinals would come over and serve the homeless. It inspires them to keep going, it encourages them to come to the mission where they have shelter and food. It encourages them to think of the mission as family and they can come here for support."

It benefits both sides, Michael Bidwill said.

"It's important we give back every year," Bidwill said. "It's a humbling experience. You see people on the edges of society right now, having tough economic times and probably the most painful thing is seeing the young families, young kids. It's nice to be able to give back and hope we made their day, their holiday a little brighter."

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