DeSean Jackson was sitting around playing video games, as he tells it, with a couple of longtime friends from California who live here now, when the subject of giving back to the community came up. The friends, Khalid Rahim and Tracy Jones, had an idea — why not select a worthy family and take them grocery shopping?
With the help of Philadelphia-based publicist Bobby McRae, Jackson announced a contest for interested families and chose a winner. Today he helped the Sanderson family of Overbrook fill up a few shopping carts at the Shop Rite at 24th and Oregon in South Philadelphia.
Their son Joshua has a genetic disorder caused by a brain injury suffered before birth. At age 5, he has exceeded developmental expectations, parents Shawn and Chiana say, but his treatment is expensive, in a family that also includes sisters Alexia and Ariana and brother Jaylen.
“I just really thought it was important to come out and do this. We researched a couple of families, and we just felt this family was needy,” Jackson said. “It’s really good to get into other people’s worlds, to see what they go through. They weren’t able to get a lot of junk food (for Joshua). They had to eat a lot of vegetables, a lot of organic food … that’s something I’m not used to. I go to the store, I get a lot of candy.”
“Philadelphia has been so great to us, the four years we’ve been here,” said Rahim. “We come from a neighborhood of underprivileged kids back home in California. We wanted to help out the families, let them know there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, it’s not going to always be dark.
Khalid and DeDean played football and ran track together at Long Beach Poly High. Tracy, DeSean’s cousin from Los Angeles, was an athlete they looked up to.
“We grew up through sports,” Rahim said, familiar with struggling families. “The East side of Long Beach, it’s urban, there’s a lot of things going on. It’s not like Camden or anything like that … It’s a middle class city. Our high school was 5,000 students.
Jones said it isn’t particularly a shock to walk into a supermarket with his cousin and find a dozen shoppers with camera phones aiming for a shot.
“We all knew he was going to be a big star, you could just see how set apart he was. Even as a younger dude … He showed he was ready to play with the big boys all the time,” Jones asid. “He’s blessed with a natural gift, and he also works hard, which a lot of people don’t see.”
They said DeSean doesn’t talk much about his contract situation or dwell on it. Jackson will make about $600,000 this year in the final season of his rookie deal. The Eagles have until Nov. 14 to be able to tuck a big chunk of a new deal into this year’s salary cap.
“The contract will take care of itself,” Rahim said. “We’re just trying to play and keep up the good work we’ve been doing.”
Asked today if there is an update, if he is optimistic, DeSean said: “I don’t know … You know how I feel. I stay positive. I’m a positive person.”
Added McRae: “DeSean has a big heart … He’s happy and thankful to be in the position he’ s in playing for the Philadelphia Eagles.
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Needs Assessment: In the United States 49 million Americans are at risk for hunger; and, 17 million children live in households where food insecurities occurred over the past year. Here in the Philadelphia, the Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger reports that 1 in 4 residents are at risk for hunger, which is more than double the state and national hunger levels. Food insecurity and hunger, in Philadelphia, is often hidden by a parent or guardian skipping meals so their children will be fed; children eating one meal a day which is a free or reduced meal in school; a grandmother eating one meal a day so she can afford her prescriptions; families stretching their dollars by buying cheaper, high caloric foods with little nutritional value which contributes to risk factors such as obesity, high blood disease, heart disease. In addition many of our low-income neighborhoods don’t have supermarkets that forces resident to rely on corner stores that carry chips and sodas rather than fresh fruits and vegetables; and, these ‘food deserts’ further impact the health and welfare of the vulnerable populations who live in these disconnected communities. Our CEO, DeSean Jackson, of the Philadelphia Eagles, took the airwaves to appeal to his fans and community and corporate partners to as a matter of conviction and compassion to raise awareness to the food insecurity and hunger levels in Greater Philadelphia; and, how through caring, community engagement we can make a difference in the lives of those in crisis.
The Serenity Prayer
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can change; and,
the wisdom to know the difference.