"The greatest thing in life is to be able to invest yourself in the people around you," said team captain and Rams Tackle ANDREW WHITWORTH. "We want to make a difference, change the world, create a better place, and all this starts with our youth."
On Friday, March 1, the Los Angeles Rams visited three local elementary schools to celebrate "Read Across America Day," a nationwide reading celebration that takes place annually for the great Dr. Seuss' birthday. Joining Whitworth in the celebration were Rams cheerleaders, team mascot Rampage and team front office staff who volunteered to visit classrooms and read to students at 112th Street Elementary in South Los Angeles, Las Posas Elementary in Camarillo, and Marianna Avenue Elementary in East Los Angeles.
Through a partnership with First Book and the Chris Long Foundation, the Rams donated more than 4,000 books to LA-area schools including 1,200 books to enrich the classrooms and libraries of the three schools the team visited. Each student also had the opportunity to take home two books of their own.
As part of the Read Across America Day celebration, Los Angeles Rams tackle Andrew Whitworth, cheerleaders, Rampage and members of the Rams staff volunteered to visit and read to 112th Street Elementary School students.
The books were provided as part of a $20,000 donation that the Rams made in support of Whitworth's $20,000 contribution to former Rams' player Chris Long's "First Quarter for Literacy," an initiative designed to get books to children in underserved neighborhoods and encourage family engagement with reading.
"There are multiple ways that you can invest in kids," said Whitworth as he walked the 112th Street Elementary school campus between classroom visits. "One is reading and showing your face, and the other is the financial aspect and being able to provide the assets they need to help increase their knowledge."
At Marianna Avenue Elementary, cheerleaders and Rampage thrilled students as they went classroom to classroom in their Dr. Seuss hats highlighting the importance of reading for their futures. In support of the Rams' efforts, Pizza Hut also provided a pizza party for each classroom following their reading sessions.
As part of the Read Across America Day celebration, Los Angeles Rams staff members, cheerleaders and Rampage volunteered to visit and read to Marianna Avenue Elementary School students.
"It was a fabulous event. The kids really loved the fact that the Los Angeles Rams organization and the cheerleaders came in and read to them. It helps solidify how important reading is," said Marianna Avenue's Principal Rafael Escobar. "We always celebrate Read Across America at our school, but rarely do we have organizations come in and assist us in this way. We were able to get quality books into our student's hands and in our library. The generosity of Pizza Hut to provide pizzas for the students was really appreciated by the kids and teachers. Corporate citizenship is so important because it really takes a village to educate a child. When people from the Rams & Pizza Hut give of their time, it makes us feel supported and like we're in this together."
With a common philosophy, Pizza Hut's BOOK IT initiative works in partnership with First Book to encourage reading in schools nationwide and emphasize the fun of opening a new book.
"Pizza Hut's BOOK IT initiative that serves school age children has been a cornerstone in the communities Pizza Hut serves for decades. The Rams' & First Book's Read Across America program was a natural extension for our partnership," said Jerry Ardizzone, President & CEO, American West Restaurant Group.
As part of the Read Across America Day celebration, Los Angeles Rams staff members and cheerleaders volunteered to visit and read to Las Posas Elementary School students.
The school visits were part of the Rams' monthly Staff Day of Service program. Each month, the team's front office staff takes time out of the office to volunteer with local schools and non-profits. Since returning home to Los Angeles, Rams staff members have provided more than 5,400 hours of community service and impacted 36 local non-profits and 54 schools.
"For kids to come into school and see that we care, that we're willing to do something that will help them be successful, that's the important part," said Whitworth. "Playing this game is one of the greatest things we get to do, and I welcome the chance to give some of it back."
Footage from the Rams "Read Across America Day" celebration can be viewed here.
For more information about the Rams' community outreach efforts, please visit www.therams.com/community.