For the 33rd straight year, the Cranston East and Cranston West football teams put aside their rivalry and joined together in delivering turkeys to many shut-in senior citizens all across Cranston last Wednesday.
“It’s tradition and it’s great to show support for the city and Cranston athletics and just how beside our differences we can unite for a good cause,” West junior quarterback Cam Alves said.
This is the third consecutive year that the quarterback has participated in the event.
“It’s always good to give back,” Alves said. “And the people who support you, your community, it’s always good to give back and show that there’s love throughout because we as student athletes in the community, we have to make sure we provide a good example to everybody watching us.”
East senior quarterback Rayven DeOliveira has always enjoyed helping the less fortunate and explained how he and his mother would assist when he was a child.
“I’ve been doing it since I was younger with my mom,” DeOliveira said. “For Thanksgiving, we’d always give to the homeless because Thanksgiving is more about giving than getting. I know everyone likes to go out with their families and eat, but it’s really a great time to just sit back and see what other people’s lives are like that don’t have as much as we do. And it just gives us more appreciation for the things that we have and the things that we don’t have. Just keep working for where you want to be in life.”
“It’s a great tradition,” West head coach Tom Milewski added. “I did it as a player back in the 90s with coach Sal Capirchio, whose still in charge of it. And then, I did it as an assistant coach under coach (Steve) Stoehr. It’s definitely something that I think is good for the kids to get out and see what you can give back to the community. Because we always look for stuff from the community, it’s good to give back to the community.”
The last couple of years the teams arrived to pick up the dinners at separate times, so this season they were a little surprised when they bumped into each other.
“We used to do it for many years and we always fit everybody in the room and it just shows you can do what you need to do together,” East head coach Tom Centore added. “Sports is fun, but I think when you do stuff in the community it’s even more important. I really do. I think this is what it’s all about. And, when the seniors see them, they really light up a lot.”
This year, the two teams started off the season together during the late summer and they closed it in unison when they faced off against each other on Saturday for the Thanksgiving Game. So, it was only right that they crossed paths again at the Senior Center.
“It was good to see because back in August we did the joint cookout,” Milewski explained. “So, we started the season together and we’re going to end the season together on Saturday afternoon at 1.”
Jeffrey Barone, Executive Director of Senior Services and his staff are thrilled to have the players come help them out during the holiday season.
“It’s a great honor to have both Cranston East and Cranston West here,” Barone said. “We’ve been doing the meals for 33 years for the shut-ins and every year Cranston East and Cranston West come on the day before Thanksgiving and they’re able to deliver the meals out to the homebound.”
“Normally, the next day’s the big rivalry game, so to get them in one room and do something good for the community is a great thing,” Barone continued. “The kids love it, the Mayor is always here, so we look forward to this every year. And my staff, Jennifer (Kevorkian) and Karen (Porto), they work very hard on preparing this.”
Mayor Allan Fung never gets tired of taking part in the rewarding affair.
“This is my 10th one and it’s always a great opportunity for both teams to come together before they do battle to help out our community,” Mayor Fung said. “Many of them are going to have the opportunity to not only battle on the field, but then be with their families. But, for one day, today, they’re helping out so many individuals that are shut-in and that might not have any family. And delivering food for them and spending a few minutes with them, just getting their chance to talk to them and provide a little sunshine in their lives on this day just before the holidays is nice. So, it’s a very special occasion, part of a great tradition that both teams have been part of for years now. And each football team member that has gone through it always appreciates what they do, getting a chance to meet some of our people in our community that need a little extra help during the holiday times.”