Since 2017, thirteen-year-old CJ Matthews, founder of Blankies 4 My Buddies, LLC, has hosted his annual, charitable flag football game, The Giving Bowl, where kids play a game they love while helping others. Due to COVID-19, the 2020 Giving Bowl will look different. There will be no game, but CJ's passion for helping others is still there. "A lot of things have been canceled this year but being kind can't stop. Kindness has not been canceled, and neither has The Giving Bowl," says CJ.
The 2020 Giving Bowl drive-thru blanket drive and food giveaway will take place on Saturday, November 28, 2020, from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM at Burdette Gym (2945 Burdett Rd. South Fulton, GA 30349). Attendees are asked to drop off new children's-themed blankets, pick up a package of non-perishable food items, and register to vote if needed. Masks will be required for all, and social distancing measures will be practiced.
"I love sports, but I also enjoy doing my part to empower my community and kids around the world," says CJ. To keep the spirit of the game alive at the event, he asks staff, volunteers, and even attendees, if they want, to wear a jersey representing their favorite team from any sport.
"The Giving Bowl has always been more about the giving than the football," says CJ.
CJ has played and loved football since he was 3 years old. He did not play this season but is currently in his 4thseason with Atlanta Youth Rugby (AYR) as a member or their Middle School A team. AYR and professional players, Harry Higgins and Jeremy “The Missile” from Atlanta’s pro team, Rugby ATL will be volunteering at the Giving Bowl and sharing information with the community about the Tri-Cities team now forming.
Just like he and his family and partners have for the past three years, CJ wants to feed families and comfort kids who need an extra dose of comfort this holiday season. As a Giving Tuesday Spark ambassador for a second year, CJ is participating in Giving Tuesday, a global day of giving, on December 1. His goal for the season is to give 1,000 blankets, 500 of which he hopes to have in time for Giving Tuesday. Giving Tuesday Sparks is all about encouraging young people to take action around the causes they care about most on Giving Tuesday and every day. To learn more about Giving Tuesday Spark and how your kids can get involved, check out the organization's website at www.givingtuesdayspark.org. To support CJ’s Giving Tuesday project, please visit https://www.georgiagives.org/story/Comfort4atlkids.
Each year, CJ teams up with H2H, Inc., a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit corporation for The Giving Bowl and other projects. For the past three years, H2H, Inc. has almost independently taken on the food giveaway's responsibility. This year, Feeding GA Families will provide 250 produce boxes, which will include fruit and vegetables, dairy products and meat. This year, CJ is also proud to welcome to the team, City of South Fulton's District 5 Councilman Corey A. Reeves, who makes youth empowerment a priority. Councilman Reeves fell in love with the concept when he attended the 2019 Giving Bowl and committed to helping to build the event in District 5, where CJ currently resides. “I was inspired to see a young man in his early youth who saw a need and filled it while doing something he loved as simple as playing football,” says Councilman Reeves.
“I encourage all young people to get involved in their communities,” he says. “It starts with you. Find what your passion is, something you’d do for free, and just do it!” exclaims Councilman Reeves.
Youth of all ages are encouraged to volunteer at The Giving Bowl. To sign up, visit https://bit.ly/givingbowl2020volunteer.
Councilman Reeves will also make it easy for those who need to register in time for the runoff elections with on-site voter registration.
In July, CJ was recognized for his charitable work throughout COVID-19 by Baskin Robbins as a Pint-Sized Hero. He received free ice cream for a year, a trophy, and a $5,000 donation to his favorite charity, which was H2H, Inc. Members of the Dunkin Donuts Atlanta corporate team will be volunteering at The Giving Bowl as well as bring donuts and coffee for the volunteers.
Other sponsors include WellCare, Macaroni Kid College Park * East Point * Morrow, Atlanta Youth Rugby, C-Matt Sports Performance Training, I’m A Father F1rst, Forever ATL, Community Teen Coalition, Inc., Art in the Paint, and South Fulton Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs, who has sponsored the venue for the event since its inception in 2017. There will be special guest appearances by Atlanta Falcons’ mascots, Freddie Falcon and Lil Fred, from 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM.
Blankies 4 My Buddies distributes blankets to sick, displaced, or otherwise traumatized children. To learn more about CJ and Blankies 4 My Buddies, visit https://linktr.ee/blankies4mybuddies.
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