The turkey may have been late — call it delay of game — but that didn’t thwart the success of the “Thanksgiving Throwdown,” the first philanthropic event by C.J. Anderson’s Dreams Never Die Foundation.
The food got served Thursday, downtown Vallejo’s hungry got fed, and members of the Bethel High School football team — Anderson’s alma mater — walked away proud to follow in the altruistic athlete’s footsteps in serving his community.
“It means a lot, giving back,” said Marquel Baker, 16, a BHS junior.
Barbara Geddies, Anderson’s grandmother, was happy the kick-off event pulled through, though was visibly distraught when the man bringing the freshly-smoked turkey was stuck in traffic behind an accident in Suisun, causing a nearly half-hour delay.
“I’m much happier now,” Geddies said. “Things are going fine. I’m happy to see the people out getting some food for Thanksgiving. They look happy and I’m happy we’re doing this.”
It was good seeing Bethel High football players helping out the four hours in front of Momo’s Cafe, Geddies noted.
“They’re supporting an alumnus,” she said. “That’s really great.”
No argument from “Saundra,” grabbing a seat and enjoying the meal.
“It keeps them off the street and instead of doing ugly things, they’re out here doing something constructive,” she said. “Everybody wins.”
The food, Saundra added, was appreciated.
“It’s fantastic. Everything is tasty,” she said. “This means everything to me, starting the day with a good, solid meal.”
Some of those in need even drop a buck or two in the donation bowl.
“It says that they’re good people,” said Geddies, expecting 300 meals served by the end of the food supply.
“I’m thankful C.J. was able to do this for the people in this community,” she said.
Though Anderson couldn’t make it — something about preparing for Sunday’s game in Oakland against the Raiders — the Times-Herald’s Thomas Gase tackled the running back by phone Wednesday.
“I’ve always loved Vallejo and it feels good to help out,” Anderson said.
Launching his foundation at the “Thanksgiving Throwdown” was perfect, the football player said.
“It’s huge. There are a lot of homeless people out there or people that just can’t afford a meal and this is a way to get them one,” Anderson said.
After scoring with the free meals on Thanksgiving, Anderson looks ahead.
“We’re also working on some stuff for Christmas and something even bigger for Vallejo academically and athletically,” he said.
Anderson pondered the Thanksgiving event following his second annual summer football camp that drew 475 kids.
“I thought maybe there were other ways I could help them out besides a free football camp,” he said.
With a pro football paycheck, “I have the resources to do that,” Anderson continued. “I have a way to give back so my family put their heads and ideas together and we got this foundation going.”
Anderson is an ongoing example of perseverance, not a bad quality to have during a sometimes challenging holiday season for many.
“I’m thankful every day that I’m in my fifth year in the NFL after being an undrafted player. I still grind hard every day,” he said.
Beyond this football season — which doesn’t look great for a team that’s won only three of 10 games — and perhaps beyond his career, Anderson has a major Vallejo project in the works.
“I’m trying to do something that I never thought I’d be able to do when I was growing up,” he said.
For more about CJ Anderson’s Dreams Never Die Foundation, visit dndfoundation.22.com.