The Minnesota Vikings executed a successful game plan against hunger. On Nov 14, the team, along with UnitedHealthCare, distributed 1,250 Thanksgiving dinner baskets to people involved with more than a dozen Twin Cities community organizations.
“Everyone should have a Thanksgiving meal. Everyone. One small way that we can help out is through this program,” said Brett Edelson, CEO for UnitedHealthcare of Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. “This sets the right tone for the holiday season.”
Held on a sunny morning at the Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center in Eagan, the drive-through event put selected Vikings players to work.
Instead of carrying the pigskin, gridiron greats Cam Bynum, Harrison Phillips, Alexander Mattison and Patrick Jones carried baskets featuring a frozen turkey, creamy mashed potatoes, stuffing, a dessert option, and more; the meals were crafted to provide a complete Thanksgiving feast for up to five people.
Coach Kevin O’Connell and Vikings legends Esera Tuaolo, Stu Voigt and Rickey Young were also pressed into service to help and to greet the crowd. The Vikings cheerleaders, the SKOL line and Vik and Vikings DJ were also on hand to make the event all the more festive.
In addition to the meals, UHC and the Vikings distributed make-at-home turkey craft kits for families to be able to assemble. A few of the players made their own hand turkeys and delighted families by giving them as a surprise gift. Community organizations that participated included the YWCA - Minneapolis, the Division of Indian Works, the Sanneh Foundation, Big Brothers Big Sisters, the Boys and Girls Club and MAC-V.
This is the sixth year that United Healthcare has partnered with the Vikings for the Thanksgiving giveaway, when their employees volunteer to distribute the meals and carry them to cars in the drive through lane.
“These are our friends and neighbors. When I think about the years past when I have participated, I just love to see the smiles,” said Edelson. “You see a lot of joy. It’s not just the meal, its the love, it’s doing what’s right for each other.”