By Mark Eckel, Player Engagement Insider
Morgan Burnett had been helping children in his hometown of College Park, Georgia from the time the Green Bay Packers made him a third-round pick out of Georgia Tech in 2010.
Burnett wanted to do more, but he also wanted to do it right. After long talks with his wife, Nicolette, they came up with The Burnett Family Foundation.
“We’ve been brainstorming for a long time,’’ Burnett, the Packers’ veteran safety, said. “I always did a youth camp back home in College Park. We just wanted to take the proper steps and make sure it was coming from the heart, not just to have a foundation to have a foundation. I wanted one that was going to be beneficial.’’
The Burnett Family Foundation began this past November, and their first endeavor was to help the less fortunate in the Green Bay area this Thanksgiving.
“My wife came up with the idea for The Turkey Drive,’’ Burnett said passing along the credit.
So, on Tuesday, November 21st, the Burnetts provided 100 Green Bay-area families with Thanksgiving dinners. Held at the New Community Shelter on Mather Street in Green Bay, families in need were invited to meet Burnett and his family, and receive a package of food they could take home and prepare for their Thanksgiving Day meal.
“It went great,” Burnett said. “We didn’t want to just provide a meal for them to eat, but a meal they could take home and enjoy preparing it together. That was important. It’s not just about getting a meal, that’s good, but it’s about the bonding and connection you get with preparing a meal together.’’
Aided by sponsors Festival Foods, U-Haul and the Packers, among others, Burnett, his wife and their two sons – eight-year-old Morgan, Jr. and two-year-old Logan – were on hand along with Packer teammates safety Marwin Evans and cornerback Herb Waters to help the families in need.
“You take the perspective of things you do every day, even football, and you think it’s important,’’ Burnett said. “But you see what others have to go through, to be able to help, it was just a true blessing.
“The sponsors helped a lot. And we were there actually packing the boxes with the food for the families to take home. And then we got to talk to them and take some pictures. There were a lot of interactions. It was a good day.’’
It was exactly the kind of day the Burnetts envisioned when they thought about starting a foundation. Now their thoughts and efforts came to fruition with their initial event.
“Leaving that night, and being able to share that moment with my family, and my kids being able to see that was a great feeling and a great experience,’’ Burnett said. “Any time you can do a good deed it gives you a great feeling. I’m a firm believer — it’s just the way I was raised — it doesn’t matter who you are or what you do, or where you are in your life, if you can help someone out you do it. That’s just how I was raised, and I watched my parents do it all the time. So, it’s something I always wanted to do.’’
He’s not done. Burnett, who has hosted a free youth football camp in Clayton County, Georgia every summer, and has been an ambassador for the NFL’s Fuel Up to Play 60 campaign, will continue to help children both in his hometown of College Park, and in Green Bay.
“[The Foundation] is centered around empowering youth in our communities,’’ he said. “And educating them to live a healthy lifestyle and give them leadership skills so they can give back to their community one day.’’