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Cardinals kick off holiday food drive

Former Arizona Cardinals guard Jerome Daniels, Big Red and two Cardinals cheerleaders kicked off the holiday food drive. (Photo by Blair McElroy/Cronkite News)

PHOENIX – Former Arizona Cardinals guard Jerome ­­Daniels held nothing back when asked his prediction for Sunday’s game against the San Francisco 49ers.

“Cardinals are going to win. That’s all I know.”

While a win on the field may still be up for grabs, a win off the field is already guaranteed.

Prior to Sunday’s game, the Cardinals will hold their annual holiday food drive presented by Hyundai benefitting the St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance.

“Bringing awareness to certain events like this one, we do that often, and we do it with our hearts and love,” Daniels said.

Daniels visited the food bank Tuesday to kick off the yearly event.

“Working at St. Mary’s food bank is an amazing thing because it helps our community,” Daniels said. “We know that hunger is a national problem, but what the Cardinals have done is try to attack it within our communities here.

“Bringing that together, we’re going to make a difference.”

St. Mary’s volunteers and Cardinals cheerleaders will be stationed at collection spots outside of all five of University of Phoenix Stadium gates. St. Mary’s Food Bank Director of Public Relations Jerry Brown said fans are encouraged to bring non-perishable food items and/or cash donations.

“We’re going to be serving tens of thousands of families in the three days leading up to Thanksgiving, so we really need that help,” Brown said. “We’re in our final push.”

Brown said the Bidwill family, owners of the Cardinals, has worked with the food bank since they arrived to the Valley in the late 80’s.

“Over one million meals have been donated over the last 10 years of this drive,” Brown said. “The Bidwill family has been very generous when it comes to supporting the food bank.”

According to the St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance website, Arizona’s hunger rates are higher than national averages. One in three children, one in five Arizonans and one in seven senior citizens live in poverty.

Tom Curtis, the president and CEO of St. Mary’s Food Bank, said its partnership with the Cardinals has helped close Arizona’s hunger gap by reaching nine of the 15 Arizona counties.

“There are so many people in our communities and in our neighborhoods that go hungry day-in and day-out and to have a team like the Cardinals step up and help us feed the hungry people in our community is just incredible,” Curtis said. “When people help us, they’re really helping their neighbors and are really helping to make the community better.”

Not attending the game but looking to get involved?

“We look for money, we look for food, and we look for volunteers. Those are the three things that help us feed the hungry,” Curtis said.

Donations will be accepted throughout the Valley at all Goodwill stores, any of the 10 Hyundai locations and 28 different Albertsons and Safeways Nov. 19.

For more information, visit www.firstfoodbank.org.

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