Beau Allen loves the kids. And he loves reading. He championed both causes by donating thousands of books for Bay-area children to take home with them and enjoy. The effort stemmed from former teammate Chris Long's foundation, which aims to get books to children in underserved areas and encourage family engagement with reading.
"One of my former teammates and a friend of mine is Chris Long," Allen explained. "He turned me on to his literacy campaign. Basically, how it works is we played the Eagles earlier in the season and we set something up where I donated to his literacy campaign and then he matched it. Then, it all goes to providing books in the Tampa Bay area. We're just doing our First Quarter of Literacy today and it's pretty rewarding stuff."
The donation Allen made was matched by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Foundation Social Justice Fund, in addition to being matched by Long. It is one of four distributions being held in four cities around the country with NFL stars, bringing the total number of books donated to 27,600.
Allen sat with nearly 30 preschoolers at North East Park Preschool and read two classics of the kids' choosing. He started with Green Eggs and Ham, proudly proclaiming that unlike Sam I Am, he's always liked Green Eggs and Ham. Then he read Beauty and the Beast, which hit a little close to home, by his own 6'2, 333-pound accord.
"I was joking that I was a little nervous, but it's true," Allen said, laughing. "I didn't want to stumble over any words or anything like that but they get so invested in the story. I'm really lucky to be a part of it."
It was all in celebration of "First Quarter for Literacy Week" in partnership with the non-profit, First Book, which helped select educators from its network of 400,000, prioritizing educators who opted into the initiative and demonstrated the greatest need for the books.
"I actually didn't learn to read until first grade but I love reading and it's kind of a great equalizer in education," Allen said. "Read, having access to books, literature, I just wanted to get involved in that. Also, it's just fun to come out here and read to these guys and interact with them, get some of their energy and enthusiasm. It's just a lot of fun."
Reading to preschoolers is elementary compared to Allen's next challenge from his former teammate. Long also supports Waterboys, which unites NFL players across the league to provide clean, accessible drinking water to communities in need. The non-profit secured over $15,000 in donations to get Allen to participate in the yearly climb of Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa, along with Long, Green Beret/former Seahawk Nate Boyer and combat veterans. Allen will be making the seven-day trek up to the Summit in March.