By Mark Eckel, Player Engagement Insider
Randall Cobb wanted to help, wanted to give back, wanted to make a difference in his hometown in Tennessee and his adopted town of Green Bay.
So, the Packers wide receiver remembered what his mentor on the field, former Packers wide receiver Donald Driver, had done and adopted it.
Cobb’s Blessings in a Backpack helps underprivileged children both at his old elementary school Alcoa (Tenn.) Elementary and at Eisenhower Elementary in Green Bay.
“It started my second year in the league,’’ Cobb, who just finished his seventh year all with the Packers, said. “I don’t have my own foundation so, I like to put my money and put my time and energy into what I believe in and what I really care about, and a big part of that is underprivileged kids and education.’’
Blessings in a Backpack provides children in need with nutritious food to take home over the weekend and ensures they will eat healthy when they are away from school.
“I wanted to implement something in my hometown and we were able to start a program at my elementary school in my hometown for under privileged kids, mostly kids on free or reduced lunch,’’ Cobb said. “They get a backpack full of food on Friday before the weekend to take home. We wanted to make sure they would be eating properly over the weekend.
“Most of the kids are coming from a background where their parents have it tough. There’s not a lot of money. Who knows what they’re eating, or what they can afford? So, we’re just trying to help out where we can.’’
Cobb expanded the program from his hometown to Green Bay where kids there are now getting the same care, just under a different name.
“We went into Green Bay under Helping Hands, same kind of thing just a different organization,’’ Cobb said. “We’re working on a bigger program, but we haven’t gotten it all finalized just yet.’’
Cobb grew up in Maryville, Tennessee and considers himself fortunate. He saw poverty all around him and knew that if he could help one day he would.
That day came, after going on to college at the University of Kentucky, when he became a second-round pick of the Packers in the 2011 NFL Draft.
“I think it’s important for you to find something that you can connect to, and hits close to home to you,’’ Cobb said. “I grew up in a town where there was a lot of poverty. There were families that lived through tough times, and it’s not the kids fault. We’re all born into this world in different situations. You can never blame a kid for the situation they were born into. So, I’ve just been trying to help them out, just trying to do things the right way.’’
Besides Blessings in a Backpack, Cobb works with the Big Brothers Big Sisters programs, has been active with Characters Unite, a national anti-bullying campaign, and also wants to get involved in helping kids in higher education.
“Where I come from not a lot of people go to college,’’ Cobb said. “So, I’m trying to push education as well in those areas. That’s a difference maker and we can make that difference. I try to take on my responsibility in doing that.’’
The wide receiver, who ranks seventh on the Packers all-time reception list with 432, feels it is his responsibility as one who made it to help those who are still trying to do so.
“I believe it is,’’ he said. “I believe it is our duty as humans to help each other. Making it known that we can all help each other and promote unity in different ways.’’