Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Hometown Huddle '05

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, United Way and The Home Depot Huddle Up for an NFL-wide day of service, not to mention a few lessons in landscaping

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Though he called himself a

Dewayne White felt it was up to him to show his teammates how to do it.

White, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' third-year defensive end, couldn't let this particular lawn job go down unprofessionally.

"You don't know what you're doing," White told an apparently errant teammate. "I used to have a job laying mulch. I'm a mulching professional."

Maybe so, but even White could learn a thing or two about gardening. Fortunately for him – not to mention an all-star Buccaneer crew of safety Will Allen, wide receiver Michael Clayton, linebacker Marquis Cooper, wide receiver Joey Galloway, wide receiver Ike Hilliard and running back Michael Pittman – those lessons were available on Tuesday when White and his teammates visited Potter Elementary School in Tampa to help landscape the front yard.

This particular landscaping project took place as part of the NFL/United Way Hometown Huddle, an NFL-wide day of service that provides players and coaches from each team with the opportunity to take part in a variety of community service activities. Started in 1999 by the NFL and United Way, Hometown Huddle continues to help make a difference in communities across the country.

Potter Elementary was selected from several Hillsborough County schools that were in need of a facelift. In addition to the usual Hometown Huddle collaboration between the Buccaneers and United Way, the help of employees from The Home Depot was enlisted in order to utilize their expertise in designing the school's landscaping. In other words, there were a few true "mulching professionals" on hand, as well as experts in just about everything lawn-related.

In all, approximately 70 volunteers from the Buccaneers, United Way and The Home Depot planted flowers, laid mulch and built two wooden benches with flower boxes to line the front walkway. Buccaneers mascot Captain Fear arrived just in time to help some of the students raise a brand new and much larger American flag on the school's flagpole.

After the work was complete, some of the Buccaneers decided to have a little fun with the remaining potting soil. What kind of fun? Well, let's just say that no one was immune, and everybody, except for the players who started it all, left with dirt smeared on their clothes, arms and legs. Everybody had a good time, but no one forgot the real reason for the project.

"We wanted to help these kids have some pride in their school," said Galloway. "Hopefully we'll get a little rain out here and these flowers will start to grow and bloom. As these kids pull up to their school to come in, they'll see these flowers and hopefully take a little pride in their school."

Tracye Brown, principal at Potter Elementary, was practically speechless when she saw the finished product.

"We're excited beyond description for the opportunity to have such wonderful work done here at our school," said Brown. "The kids will take such pride in this knowing there were others who came out and gave of their time to work hard for them."

The Buccaneers purchased watering cans and gardening tools that were donated to the school, and Brown plans to assign the fifth grade students to the maintenance of the new landscaping.

The mission of Hometown Huddle is to promote the importance of volunteerism throughout the community. The Buccaneers know how much support they receive from the Bay area, so it's only fitting that they give some of that back.

"We're all from different areas, but we come and play in this one city," said Galloway. "To have a chance to give back to the kids in this city who cheer us on and root for us is important to us."

To find out more on how you can make a difference in your community, log on to www.uwtb.org.

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