Buccaneers Owner Darcie Glazer Kassewitz presents a grant to visitors from the Excelsior Education & Training Foundation
A horn blew halfway through the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' practice on Sunday afternoon, and all of the players and coaches on the field headed south, towards the indoor tent, save for one.
Heading in the opposite direction, with an hour of practice still to go, was Head Coach Jon Gruden. Before getting back to the necessary tasks of training camp, Gruden wanted to meet another group of people who are also doing very important work.
Assembled under the family tent to the north of the Bucs' training camp field was a group of representatives from numerous charitable organizations in Central and West Central Florida. Gruden greeted the visitors with handshakes, hugs and autographs, but a few minutes later, these hard-working people would receive something even more prized.
Seven organizations came to the Bucs' practice at Disney's Wide World of Sports complex on Sunday so that the Glazer Family Foundation could award them with a series of grants totaling $25,000. Buccaneers Owner Darcie Glazer Kassewitz was on hand to personally welcome the groups to camp and to present each with a plaque and a check.
The Foundation, established in 1999, hands out grants twice each year to programs focused on the health, safety and recreation of disadvantaged youth.
"The Glazer Family Foundation is proud to assist in the development of Florida's youth," said Glazer Kassewitz. "These programs work hard to enhance the lives of tomorrow's leaders, and we are thankful for their efforts in providing our children with a better future."
Receiving grants on Sunday were the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County; Community Action Stops Abuse; Excelsior Education & Training Foundation; Pinellas Association for Retarded Children; Plant City Children's Theatre; Special Kids Dance & Performing Arts; and Tampa Bay Academy of Hope.
The visiting organizations represented Tampa, St. Petersburg, Plant City, Largo, Bradenton and Sarasota. They received support for a wide variety of unique and impactful initiatives, from a Double Dutch program that promotes a healthy lifestyle (Boys & Girls Clubs) to the purchase of computer systems that will aid in career exploration, work application and interviewing skills for developmentally disabled individuals (Excelsior).
"With support, every child is capable of accomplishing something great with his or her life," Glazer Kassewitz told the assembled visitors. "It is great to have you here with us, because it is the work that you do that provides our children with the support they need."
Additional charitable groups based in Central Florida also joined in the event, as they were invited out to practice to meet with the Buccaneers' community relations staff. Director of Community Relations Miray Holmes took the opportunity to urge the extra visitors to apply for Glazer Family Foundation grants in the future.
"That was really our way of reaching out to the Orlando area," said Holmes. "It's hard not having an office here to meet with them every day, so we wanted to begin a dialogue with those organizations, to put a face to it so that they could meet the face of the Buccaneers. We wanted to let them know some of the things that we're doing."
Since 1999, the Glazer Family Foundation has donated millions of dollars in programs, grants, tickets and merchandise to non-profit organizations throughout West Central Florida. Through it's grant program, the Foundation presented 14 organizations with grants in 2007, and it will have a second grant cycle later this year.
The Foundation's work is ongoing because there countless charitable organizations in Tampa and the surrounding communities worthy of its support.
"We got over 300 grant applications [for the current cycle] and I want to tell you that's probably one of the most difficult things to do because they are all deserving and they all have programs that help a lot of people," said Holmes. "We try to pick programs that are unique and that will help the largest number of people."