The Philadelphia Union Foundation launched in March 2012, has worked since its inception on creating a better community in the city of Chester. The first year of the Foundation is soon wrapping up; but before it does the Foundation will be once again involved in the “Coats for Chester” program.
The idea for the “Coats for Chester” initiative first came into being three years ago during the Sons of Ben annual Food Drive. “People were coming in hoodies,” Bob Kozlowski (President of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Soccer Hall of Fame) stated, “The Sons of Ben had the food Drive; we wanted our own way to give back.
For the third straight year the Philadelphia Union partnered with Bob Kozlowski and the Southeastern Pennsylvania Soccer Hall of Fame in its annual “Coats for Chester” program. At the final two home games of the Philadelphia Union’s season fans donated over 600 coats from the different donation stations throughout the Toyota Plaza at PPL Park. In the past two months additional drop-off locations were set up across Delaware Country for others to donate their slightly worn coats. At the conclusion of the “Coats for Chester” program on November 30th the Union and the SEPA Hall of Fame could proudly say that1,450 coats far surpassed their goal of 1,000 coats making this year’s total the largest collection to date.
Today,-December 14th the Philadelphia Union Foundation with the help of members from the SEPA Hall of Fame and volunteers from Father Judge High School hit three different locations around Chester, PA to drop of the collected coats. These locations included Bernadine Center, City Team Ministries, and St. Catherine’s.
At the Bernadine Center we were greeted by Sister Sanders and the unloading began. After all the bags of coats were unloaded I got a chance to speak with Ms. Sanders. “If people have clothing, than that is one less thing they have to spend time worrying about,” she said. Collecting coats is just one of the many ways in which the Bernadine Center shares with the Community of Chester. The center also hosts a number classes focusing on topics such as education, anger management, and even parenting. “These are ways to help people move up in the world, we are helping people by lifting them up.” The next stop on the list was City Team Ministries.
Upon arrival at City Team Ministries an assembly line was formed and the unloading began. John Clifford, the liaison of the drop off, was incredibly thankful. “Our long-term goal is to see this city transformed,” Mr. Clifford said. “We want to make a difference.”
The last drop off of the day was at St. Catherine’s church, just a few blocks away from PPL Park. Sister Barbra Anne was waiting anxiously and the unloading began for the last time as “Coats for Chester” came to an end. Beyond coats, St. Catherine’s Church had also been collecting food and toys for the holidays. “Seeing children come in and not only getting food but toys to play with!” a Sister from St. Catherine's began, “the parents are so grateful.”
With the drop-offs over and done with, and a rewarding feeling in our hearts the boys from Father Judge High School returned to class, Bob Kozlowski and his team headed for home and we, The Union went back to work. Before Mr. Kozlowski left, I asked what the plan was for the future of “Coats for Chester”. He replied, “We won’t stop until we collect the same number coats as the number of people in Chester.” Even though our total this year was nowhere near that number, The Foundation, can proudly say that “Coats for Cancer” was a success.
With donations and support from Dunkin Donuts, the Philadelphia Union Foundation set-out, on three different occasions, to bring hot coffee and donuts to the Crossing Guards of Chester, PA. as a part of their new initiative: C.A.U.S.E. (Community Action Union Soccer Efforts).
On Friday November 16th at 7:30am, 4 Union Staff members drove the Union Toyota to 6 different stops in Chester, PA. Crossing Guards, children and community members, including Linda Johnson on West 7th and Jeffrey Street, were delighted to receive a freshly brewed cup of Joe and a donut to start their morning shift. Many shared stories about their job and how they’ve loved seeing the children grow up. “Ms. Puddin,” one of the first stops on the third drop, said, “these are all my children, I keep them safe.”
Another run occurred on the same day during the afternoon shift. Finally on November 19th, a chilly Monday morning, the third, final and largest Joe and dough drop occurred. It was an excellent opportunity to meet neighbors and to show thanks for continued hard work and dedication in Chester.
On Monday, November 12th, and Wednesday, November 14th, staff members of the Philadelphia Union, Ovations, and Global Spectrum volunteered at Cityteam Ministries in Chester. All volunteers helped pack more than 200 boxes with non-perishable food that will be delivered by Cityteam Ministries, along with 5,000 frozen turkeys, to families throughout
Delaware County. Part of the group of volunteers assembled the boxes together while other members of the group selected and placed the food items into the boxes. After each box was filled with the proper amount of food, they were sealed and ready to be delivered to families. In anticipation of Thanksgiving, the boxes were filled with sweet potatoes, cranberries, stuffing,
and more. The size of the packed boxes varied depending on the size of the family that would receive it. There were boxes for families with one to two members, three to four members as well as boxes designed to feed a family of seven or more people. Cityteam International is a
nondenominational Christian nonprofit organization serving the poor, the homeless, and the lost in local communities in the United States. Cityteam locations around the world are preparing to provide 558,823 meals for the poor and homeless this holiday season. To volunteer, sign up at
This past Saturday (11/3) The Philadelphia Union brought their Mobile Marketing Tour to the Andrew L Hicks Foundation, Soccer for Success Jamboree. The Jamboree was specifically designed to celebrate the children who had successfully participated in the after-school Soccer for Success Program. It was nothing short of a fantastic time! This fun filled event provided an immense variety of entertainment for children of all ages. Activities ranged from face painting to carnival games, all the way to a sporting complex! The Jamboree simply had it all. From 10:00am to 2:00pm there was a steady flow of young smiling faces filtering in and out of the Schwartz Athletic Center at the Widener University Field House. Through all these different activities, what really brought this eclectic event together was the Group Tile Project. Throughout the day children were asked to paint their own tiles to later be mounted together as one. At the end of it all a beautiful, eccentric collage was created. It was truly a pleasure to be a part of. We can only eagerly await what next year’s festivity will hold.
(Photo Credit: Brent Jacquette)
Written by: Daniel Brasher
Lee Marshall: The coach behind the Philadelphia Union’s second successive River Cup victory on Sunday has praised those in attendance at PPL Park after the club smashed its target to beat last year’s fundraising total.
The inaugural River Cup game in summer 2011 raised more than $19,000 for the Philadelphia Union Foundation, which in-turn provides a wide range of opportunities for children across the local community.
But following Sunday’s showpiece event which saw the club’s front office, technical staff and VIP guests defeat the club’s official supporters group, Sons of Ben, 2-0 to retain the trophy, the Philadelphia Union Foundation now stands set to raise in excess of $30,000.
Cup-winning coach and Executive Director of the Philadelphia Union Foundation, Rick Jacobs, said: “When keeping it in perspective, bringing in 600 spectators to PPL Park in a bid to shed a light on the Foundation and raise awareness is very rewarding.
“But our aim is not only raise awareness levels, it’s also to raise funds and while the tally isn’t final yet, I’m delighted that we’re well over our target and set to be north of $30,000.
“I have to thank the Sons of Ben and loyal friends and family that came down to PPL Park on Sunday.
“I’m also immensely grateful to the people here who donated their time so generously to support the event – the front office staff, technical staff, the people of Global Spectrum and Ovations, the Wives and Friends group who held a very successful bake sale and raffle, and, of course, the players who made an effort to come down and show their support. Everyone combined to make it a great success.”
While raising both funds and awareness, the game also showcases the special relationship between the Union and its loyal legion of supporters, with both teams contributing to an entertaining game which eventually went the way of the Union Front Office.
CEO and Operating Partner Nick Sakiewicz was joined in that team by Philadelphia Phillies General Manager Reuben Amaro Jr, Union team manager John Hackworth and coaching staff including Rob Vartughian, Brendan Burke and former MLS All-Star Jim Curtin in the Union side, with a squad of almost 30 players matched by the Sons of Ben roster.
Front office member Nico Abelenda, who opened the scoring in last year’s 2-1 victory, did so again after stealing a yard inside the box to neatly prod home in the first half, before assistant coach Burke – who later left the field through injury – turned well to rifle home from a second half corner to seal victory.
Union goalkeeper Mike Quarino also played a notable role in the win, saving a second half penalty before pulling off a string of fine saves.
“The Sons of Ben were a talented and committed group so I’m proud of the effort and spirit that we showed,” added Jacobs, who has overseen the development of around 40 fledgling professionals across 30 years of coaching experience.
“The early roots of when this game was first created by founding members of the club and Sons of Ben shows just how different our relationship is compared to other teams in MLS. The River Cup underlines its power.
“We want to continue to build on what we’ve achieved and are looking forward to next year as the event continues to grow.”
To make a donation to the Philadelphia Union and make a difference to children across the community, please visit www.philadelphiaunion.com/foundation.