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NFL & United Way Blog

Cleveland Browns-United Way of Greater Cleveland 2016 Hometown Huddle

The 18th annual Hometown Huddle, hosted by United Way of Greater Cleveland, October 18, invited Cleveland Browns staff, players and University Hospital (UH) staff to Luis Munoz Marin School. The Day of Action provided pre-k students at the school with a new playground, as well as beautifying the existing structure.

Hometown Huddle is a national event, where United Ways across the country partner with their local NFL teams on community service projects. In its 18th year, the national Day of Action promotes collaborations between these organizations, working to address youth health and wellness by building “fitness zones” and hosting football clinics.

More than 100 volunteers, including 30 volunteers from United Way, 50 from UH, 12 from SunBelt, and staff and players from Cleveland Browns, attended this year’s Day of Action. Some volunteers started Monday, October 17, working to lay the foundation for Tuesday’s construction.

The day-of, Cleveland Browns’ Andrew Hawkins, Xavier Cooper, Randall Telfer and others made guest appearances, helping staff and volunteers raise a new play space from the ground up.

“We’re building a playground for the kids to promote being active at least 60 minutes a day,” said Cleveland Browns Wide Receiver Andrew Hawkins. “It’s cool to be a part of this, it’s cool to be down here, with the players and the kids, being able to see the Cleveland Browns out here devoting time and showing how important it is for the Hometown Huddle and Play 60.”

University Hospitals used the volunteer opportunity to further their staff’s goal toward 150,000 hours of community service to celebrate the care provider’s 150th anniversary and strengthen its ties throughout Greater Cleveland.

Luis Munoz Marin is a Cleveland Metropolitan School District school participating in United Way’s Community Wraparound strategy, which places a community partner-funded site coordinator in 25 schools. This site coordinator helps low-income students combat social and emotional obstacles affecting academic performance, including housing and food instability.

Located in Cleveland’s Clark-Fulton neighborhood, the school offers dual language programming in English and Spanish. The school’s population is 69 percent Hispanic, with 52 percent of students having limited English proficiency.

Marin was selected for this year’s Hometown Huddle because it recently added a Pre-K program, but didn’t have playground equipment for the younger children, such as a jungle gym and rock climbing wall, to aid in large-muscle development. The playground is also ADA-compliant, with transfer stations with steps and handholds, helping children go between equipment with ease.

Volunteers worked from 8 a.m. until late in the afternoon, assembling equipment, refurbishing existing ones and resurfacing the school’s outdoor basketball court.

As Browns players Cooper and Telfer cut the orange ribbon, officially opening the space, student’s from the school’s Boys and Girls Club afterschool program ran to the area, testing out the equipment in the summer-like sun.

Hometown Huddle was made possible through donations and support from several community partners, including T the Cleveland Browns, University Hospitals, Republic Services, Sunbelt Rentals, Zenith Systems, Giant Eagle,  Arby’s and Meyer Design.