Giving back: Cobb makes three-year commitment to Alcoa Elementary backpack program
By Matthew Stewart | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Alcoa product and Green Bay Packers receiver Randall Cobb spent his bye week giving back to his community.
On Friday morning, Cobb announced that he was making a three-year commitment to sponsor Alcoa Elementary School’s Blessing in a Backpack program. He and his family members later packed backpacks with food.
The NFL player’s donation will provide 90 students with nutritious, nonperishable food that can easily be prepared by a child. Common food items placed in a student’s backpack include granola bars, peanut butter, tuna, crackers, macaroni and cheese, cereal and juice boxes.
Cobb learned about the program from a People magazine article about one needy family. He later contacted his agent with the intention of helping out the family but learned that their needs had been met.
Cobb then started looking into schools in Green Bay, Wis., Lexington, Ky. and Alcoa. “I wanted to get more involved, and I discovered that more than 50 percent of our community’s kids are on free- and reduced-price lunches. I grew up here, and I couldn’t believe that so many kids met those requirements.”
Between 65 and 70 percent of Alcoa Elementary School’s students are on free- and reduced-price lunches, said Principal Merna Schott.
Cobb’s family members have expressed a desire to remain personally involved in the program, said Beth Bush, Blessing in a Backpack’s national director of athletic partnerships. They plan to ensure its success.
Family members are proud of Cobb’s efforts.
“It’s a true blessing to have this program,” said brother Michael Love. “I know it’s really helping our community, and it’s even more gratifying to know that it’s my baby brother who’s doing it. I’ve watched him mature as an athlete and a man. He’s focused, driven and serves as an inspiration to us all. He’s getting established as a professional right now, and we love and support him. We’ll do everything we can to help him and this community.”
Cobb also spoke with Alcoa Elementary School’s third- and fourth-graders about the importance of education.
“I’m glad that I’m able to be back,” Cobb said. “I’ve been reminiscing about all the times here. I did the same things as you. I walked the same halls.”
He then noted the many familiar faces in the crowd. “I remember when some of you were babies. You’re making me feel old, and I’m not really that old.”
Cobb encouraged the elementary-schoolers to be good students and respectful children. “I challenge you to be the best student possible. It’s very important to learn as much as you can to be the smartest you can, to be the best student you can, to be the best person you can.
“You also need to respect your parents and grandparents. It goes a lot further than you think it does. You can’t do anything on your own. I couldn’t have done it without you (Alcoa’s educators).”
The NFL player believes so much in education that he’s working to complete his bachelor’s degree at the University of Kentucky. “I was in school for 2½ years. I was on track to graduate in 3½ years. I came out early as a junior, because I had the opportunity to play in the NFL, which doesn’t come often.”
He then pushed students to pursue their own dreams. “If you have a dream, hold on to your dream and chase it every day. It’s possible for you to do whatever you want to do, but you have to be disciplined.”
“He’s a pretty awesome football player, but I was most impressed with what he told us,” said fourth-grader Jaxson Jones. “He’s a good role model. Everybody should follow in his footsteps and be good role models to their brothers and sisters.”
Fourth-grader Elijiah McCallie said he looks up to Cobb as a role model. “I play football, and I want to follow in his footsteps. I really liked hearing him talk about his family and the way that they inspired him. I’ve got two older brothers and an older cousin. I look up to them, as well.”
School officials wanted to publicly thank Cobb for his commitment to Alcoa City Schools’ students.
“A lot of the kids see him on TV every week, but it makes a big difference for them to see him in person,” Schott said. “He’s such a positive role model, and the kids have benefited immensely from listening to him today.”
“He’s such a good young man, the best role model you could ask for in life,” said Director of Schools Brian Bell. “He has a lot of character. He has a good heart. He also remembers his roots. He really makes Alcoa and Alcoa City Schools proud.”