Football players help needy

Judy Bokorney – Special to the Florida Catholic

For the fourth year in a row, the players and coaches of the Ave Maria University football team treated families at the Casa Mara Soup Kitchen at Guadalupe Social Services of Catholic Charities in Immokalee to a Super Bowl tailgate party.

Instead of the typical meal of soup, the tailgate party consisted of all-American menu of chili dogs, baked beans, potato chips, cupcakes, bread and juice.

The coaches prepared the meal and the players served a total of 120 people on Jan. 31, the Friday before the Super Bowl. To mark the occasion, the soup kitchen dining area was adorned with festive Super Bowl themed decorations.

“We wanted to give our families a fun day with some excitement,” said Guadalupe Social Services Program Coordinator Peggy Rodriguez. “We are grateful to the Ave Maria University Football Team for continuing to come out and do this every year. The interaction between the team and the families is so special.” Three raffle prizes were awarded during the meal as well.

“The players and coaches get a lot more out of it than they give and have the privilege to experience joy, love and gratitude,” said Ave Maria University Football Head Coach Joe Patterson. “Sports is about pursuing excellence and virtue, and you want to be as close to virtue as you can. To engage on a human to human level is integral to the development of the players as men.”

Guadalupe Social Services aims to alleviate the suffering in Immokalee with compassion, integrity, and empathy. By empowering the people through assistance provided to them, the main goals are to ensure human dignity and enhance the quality of life for all individuals served. Guadalupe Social Services focuses on offering the basic needs of food, shelter, clothing, and household items, stability and education.

Thank you to the Ave Maria Football Team for their service!

To learn more about Guadalupe Social Services, the Casa Maria Soup Kitchen and all of the programs of Catholic Charities, please visit