No longer being in the NFL doesn’t mean former Ravens linebacker Jameel McClain no longer calls Baltimore home.
In fact, his charity efforts in the community here never ceased despite being released by the organization in 2014 and by the New York Giants in 2015.
On Tuesday, McClain returned to town to host his annual “53 Families” Thanksgiving dinner along with co-host defensive lineman Chris Canty at Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club, located in Middle River, Maryland.
Now in its sixth year, 53 Families features McClain along with several former Ravens teammates serving a hot meal complete with turkey and all the trimmings to those who are in dire need this holiday season.
“It’s the people,” said McClain about why he continues his giving back to those in need here in Baltimore. “This is an event that’s always going to stay around. Beyond me. Someday, my family will run these types of events and to impact people in a positive way.”
McClain, who battled his share of adversity including brief periods of homelessness growing up in Philadelphia, often never knew where his next mean would come from. His connection with the Salvation Army is important to him, as he found solace at their shelter throughout his youth.
He will never forget what it means to give back to people who struggle much like he did growing up.
Chris Canty, now in his second year with the “53 Families” event, echoed McClain’s sentiments about the importance of the holiday dinner event and giving back to those in need.
“It’s important to be able to use the platform that I have to those that are in need,” remarked Canty about his involvement on Tuesday evening. “Jameel does a great job of putting this event together every year and I’m just thankful that he invited me to be a part of it and it’s a great time.
“It’s a blessing to be in this position to make a difference in other peoples lives and I truly believe that’s part of Gods purpose for me, to be a blessing for others. It’s something that I see as a responsibility and a privilege.”
Several current Ravens joined McClain and Canty including safety Anthony Levine, cornerback Julian Wilson, and linebacker Elvis Dumervil. The players took their time to meet and greet the families in attendance and signed autographs as well as posed for pictures with the many kids on hand.
Like many of those present for McClain’s initiative, Wilson understands the hardships people face each and every day, as he also went through them as a young kid.
“Any time I get a chance to come out and give back to the community is a blessing,” said Wilson. “I grew up in a single parent home and I know the things these families here tonight are going through so anything I can do for them I will.”
While the Ravens have been struggling on the field this season, these types of events certainly put things into a perspective that often goes overlooked by the many fans – myself included. There is more to these football players than what happens on the field on game days.
“Certainly we’ve had a tough time on the football field this year but these events are a little break for us to take time out of our schedule to not focus on ourselves but to focus on others that are in need,” remarked Canty. “It puts everything back into perspective.
“We certainly want to win and that hasn’t happened for us a lot this year but certainly we want to make sure these folks in the community are taken care of and it’s a special opportunity for us to do so.”
McClain and Canty along with their team of volunteers are truly class acts and their efforts to give back to those in need are certainly second to none.
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