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Hayes, Long Tackle Homelessness with #CantLookAway Collection

Posted Jun 18, 2015

William Hayes and Chris Long continued to raise money and awareness for the St. Patrick Center by collecting funds outside of Busch Stadium following a game.

Rams defensive ends William Hayes and Chris Long continued their efforts to raise money and awareness for homelessness and the St. Patrick Center as the two collected money outside of Busch Stadium following a Cardinals game on June 3.

The effort was a complete juxtaposition from when the pair made $6 between the two of them while they were living on the streets of St. Louis this March. This time, donning their Rams jerseys instead of second-hand clothes and collecting money in their Rams helmets rather than a plastic cup, together the pair raised more than $1,500 for the St. Patrick Center in less than two hours.

“It was amazing to see people come out here and support the cause,” Hayes said. “We raised some pretty good money.”

Their reception by the public during the two contrasting experiences wasn’t lost on them.

“A lot of people view the homeless as invisible or they just look away,” Long said. “So, it was a good opportunity to see the two extremes.”

The #CantLookAway Collection was an extension of the Rams Broadcasting Network’s “Home” documentary and the “Life on the Streets” special ESPN’s SportsCenter aired three days prior to the collection. As a result of the video features, awareness for the St. Louis homeless community has risen dramatically.

Hayes and Long’s partnership with St. Patrick Center, a local non-profit whose mission is to help individuals and families transition from homeless to independence, began in 2012 when the defensive line pledged to make a donation of $1,000 for every time the Rams record a sack. Since the “Sack Homelessness” initiative began, the Rams have raised approximately $150,000 to fight homelessness.

Last offseason, Hayes decided he wanted to deepen his commitment to the homeless community and learn more about the everyday struggles they face. As a result, Hayes took part in monthly activities to educate himself on the issue and engage those struggling with homelessness. Among his monthly efforts he treated St. Patrick Center clients to a variety of social outings. During the Christmas season, he furnished the apartment of a family who had just transitioned from homelessness to a home. 

“William is great,” said Laurie Phillips, CEO of St. Patrick Center. “He totally gets it, he’s so easy to talk to, really laid back and has really good rapport with our clients and they love to be around him.”

Many fans who donated during the #CantLookAway Collection also posed for photos with Hayes and Long, while others just gave money and went on their way. According to Phillips, the money will go toward housing for those living on the streets, which is the most important program the St. Patrick Center offers.

For Hayes and Long, it was never about taking photos or getting publicity from the event; it was just about giving back to the community.

“The #CantLookAway Collection did what it was supposed to do,” Hayes said. “It created awareness and some buzz. It wasn’t so me and Chris could get a little spotlight in, it was for us to honestly spread a little more awareness, and I think it did that."