Tampa Bay Buccaneers punter Michael Koenen and his wife, Devin, on Wednesday, July 17, presented a check for $7,600 to the Ferndale Food Bank. The money was raised from donations at last month's Friday Night Lights Touch Football Game, which was part of the Michael Koenen/Jake Locker Charity NFL Kids Football Camp, with matching funds from the Koenen Foundation.
"My first reaction was of great humility and emotion," said Suzanne Nevan, executive director of the Ferndale Food Bank. "Fighting hunger is not an easy job. We scratch and claw for donation dollars. The cost of food is going up, and the need is higher. Even though the economy appears to be recovering, we're seeing lots of new faces. Even though people are going back to work, they are taking lower paying jobs, so the need is still there.
"To have two young men that have enjoyed great success and rich blessings in their lives come back in a humble and heartfelt way and help the community — it really overwhelmed me."
The monetary donation was in addition to the 2,500 pounds of food that was collected at the game, as fans were asked to either make a food or cash donation for entry into the event.
"A donation like this is the world to us," said Nevan, who has worked at the Food Bank for three years. "It's going to guarantee our families get eggs and milk every week. It will guarantee that we can provide two to three meals per week and meal makers that are rich in nutrition, rather than just giving out junk food. Michael's and Jake's commitment will have a profound effect that will ripple through the pond of Ferndale."
Nevan estimated that the cash donation will purchase approximately 15,200 pounds of food, which should help the Food Bank feed families for approximately a half month.
"It's impactful," she said.
That's exactly what the two Ferndale High School graduates who have gone on to the NFL - Locker is the quarterback for the Tennessee Titans - hoped to do.
"We just wanted to do something that would give directly back to the community," Locker said at the Friday Night Lights event. "The food bank does a lot of good for a lot of people here in Whatcom County, and we just wanted to be able to help them out."
Reach DAVID RASBACH at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 715-2271.