MLS WORKS Day of Service scores over 100,000 meals for central Florida nonprofit
Soccer stars, Wells Fargo team members, and other volunteers joined Wells Fargo and MLS WORKS, Major League Soccer's community outreach initiative, to fight hunger with Feeding Children Everywhere for the 2019 MLS WORKS Day of Service.
Paul Richards had never heard of Feeding Children Everywhere when he signed up six years ago to volunteer during a Wells Fargo Day of Service community blitz. That day, he experienced firsthand the impact of the nonprofit’s mission to feed hungry children around the world.
Since then, he and his Wells Fargo Commercial Banking teammates in Orlando, Florida, have made annual trips to the nonprofit’s Longwood, Florida, headquarters to assemble meals for children living in central Florida.
“What better cause is there than to help feed children who are hungry and address a problem that is right in your backyard?” Richards said. “Every time we pack meals at Feeding Children Everywhere, I always walk out feeling great about being one small part of getting lives back on track.”
Day of service
On July 27, Richards and 600 other volunteers joined forces with Feeding Children Everywhere. These volunteers included over 75 Wells Fargo team members from across the company, their families and friends, Orlando residents, MLS legends and current players, and eMLS game competitors. This year’s MLS WORKS Day of Service, hosted by Major League Soccer and Wells Fargo, was the first time the event was open to the public, and registrations to volunteer filled up a week in advance.
“We were thrilled when we found out the charity that would benefit from the Day of Service was Feeding Children Everywhere because of our association with them and how good we feel about volunteering there,” said Richards.
“It was fantastic to see all these people coming together. I’m hoping that my presence here, along with some of the other former players and current players, inspires people to go out and find their day of service and pass it on.” — Cobi Jones
During the event, volunteers packed 102,000 “Red Lentil Jambalaya” meals of lentils, dehydrated vegetables, salt, and rice — four meals packed for every seat at Exploria Stadium, the stadium where the MLS All-Star Game presented by Target will take place on July 31. That’s enough food to feed 50,000 people.
National Soccer Hall of Famer Cobi Jones was on hand packing meals during the event.
“It was fantastic to see all these people coming together,” he said. “I’m hoping that my presence here, along with some of the other former players and current players, inspires people to go out and find their day of service and pass it on.”
Dave Green, CEO for Feeding Children Everywhere, said the food will be combined with other meals, fresh fruit, and other popular grocery items for distribution through the nonprofit’s Full Cart grocery delivery program.
Feeding Children Everywhere has distributed 114 million meals in the United States and 52 countries since 2010 as part of its mission to activate people for a hunger-free world. In the greater Orlando area, Green said, 1 in 4 children are hungry because of the rising cost of housing and other essentials.
“Orlando is a diverse and inclusive community with a big heart, so it’s great whenever we can have hunger projects like this that allow anyone interested to sign up and involve the whole community to help address the problem of hunger,” Green said. “This is just one more step in the direction of ending hunger and creating a hunger-free world.”
Angel Buchanan, South Central Florida Region Bank President for Wells Fargo, said volunteers like Richards contribute to the company’s efforts to strengthen communities. In 2018, Wells Fargo donated more than $19.1 million to more than 1,200 Florida nonprofits, schools, and community organizations like Feeding Children Everywhere. Florida team members also recorded 90,797 volunteer hours and donated more than $1.8 million during Wells Fargo’s Community Support Campaign, which aims to lift communities and direct resources to pressing community challenges like education, hunger, homelessness, and more.
Nationwide, Wells Fargo helped Feeding America provide 50 million meals in 2018 through the Wells Fargo Holiday Food Bank, and team members like Richards pledged $75.4 million throughout 2018 and during the Community Support Campaign — why United Way Worldwide recognized Wells Fargo as No. 1 in workplace giving for the 10th consecutive year.
“Making our communities strong and resilient is something we’re passionate about,” Buchanan said. “As the official bank of Major League Soccer since 2013, and as the Day of Service results here in Orlando again demonstrate, the impact goes far beyond the soccer field and sport. Together, we’re building better communities all across the country.”