The kids attending the Buccaneer Women's Organization Fall Festival got a chance to run through football-simulation drills
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers didn't play on Saturday, but they had young fans smiling on both sides of the bay.
In Tampa, children from Joshua House, Children's Home, Central City YMCA, The Spring, Lakeland Baptist Children's Home and Redlands Christian Migrant Association had happy faces because of the Buccaneers Women's Organization Fall Festival.
Meanwhile, as the Women's Organization spent their morning with 100 children, Buccaneers QB Shaun King and T Cornell Green joined the youth from the Childs Park area youth football teams and St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker to open the new football fields at the Childs Park Athletic Facility. More on that below.
Every year, the Buccaneer Women's Organization, a charitable group formed by the wives, fiancées and girlfriends of Buccaneer players and coaches, hosts their Fall Festival for a group of underprivileged children between the ages of six and 13.
At this year's Festival, which took place at Raymond James Stadium, the kids created arts and crafts, played games, got their pictures taken with Captain Fear and participated in the Buccaneers Gatorade Junior Training Camp, a mini football clinic that involves executing football and agility drills.
Adding to the festive atmosphere were stations for face painting, making Buccaneers hats and running through additional football drills.
"I had a great time," said eight year-old Michele. "I really liked the arts & crafts stuff, but the football drills were cool too. And our candy bags are awesome."
In St. Pete, home town to both King and Green, the new fields at Childs Park are an effort to create a permanent home for sports programs of the Childs Park Youth Sports Association. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers provided a $100,000 grant to CPYSA for the construction effort as part of the NFL Community Football Field Program, a joint effort of the NFL Youth Football Fund and Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), the nation's leading community development support organization. The newly built complex includes new, lighted practice and game fields for CPYSA's football and cheerleading programs, a grandstand and a concession stand.
"It's a pleasure because the Child's Park Neighborhood has been expecting this for a while, they deserve this," said Dwayne Albritton, the President of Child's Park Junior Rattlers. "I'm just glad that Shaun King and Cornell Green could come out and show their support for the community and the Childs Park Rattlers."
King, who works closely with the Childs Park community, was also glad that he was able to attend the field dedication after an early morning practice at One Buccaneer Place.
"It gives me great joy, God definitely blesses us," said King. "It's great to have so many supporters with great organizations like the Bucs, the NFL, LISC, the Bethel (Community Baptist) Church, and the Junior Rattlers. It's very important that we continue to give our kids positive alternatives. This is one of the programs that I grew up in with football, and it's one of the ways that I learned discipline and teamwork, and what it takes to work together with a team to achieve a common goal. I think it's excellent that the City of St. Petersburg continues to provide active things in the community."
Even without playing a game, the Buccaneers can still make the Bay area smile.