On Tuesday, October 13, United Way partnered with the Cincinnati Bengals and the Marvin Lewis Community Fund for the annual Hometown Huddle project. This year’s project took place at Taft Elementary School in Mt. Auburn, a school that previously did not have a playground.
Bengals players and community volunteers gathered on a beautiful day at Taft Elementary to construct a playground, create a community garden, install new fencing and beautify the entire area by painting, planting flowers, etc.
“This is our 11th year doing Hometown Huddle and we’ve partnered with United Way every year,” said Barbara Dundee, executive director, Marvin Lewis Community Fund. “I couldn’t believe there was a school that didn’t have a playground and we’re so excited to put this in. It’s taken a lot of people coming together, just like everybody who supports United Way.”
UWGC president Rob Reifsnyder and Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis thanked all of the volunteers and supporters during a short program in between the morning and afternoon sessions. Tuesdays are typically a day off for NFL players, but the Bengals were more than willing to give up their time to get out and make a difference in the lives of local children.
“I’m happy to be doing this,” said defensive tackle Domata Peko. “Taft Elementary School didn’t have a playground, and I can’t imagine going to school without one. As a child, some of my best memories were at recess and lunch playing around. It’s always good to give back. I just want to encourage everybody to do so. Life is not about yourself—it’s about others. If someone is down or needs some help let’s lend a helping hand.”
“I love volunteering that deals with education because I think that’s a very important thing," said linebacker Vinny Rey, "from learning how to read, then going through the transition of reading to learn around the age of 8 or 9. I love just putting in the work with young people -- reading to them and teaching reading comprehension. There’s so much more we can do, myself included, to use our resources—our time, talents and treasures—to help others in our community.”