There are a lot of great things about being a professional athlete. For Marquez Valdes-Scantling, one of those cool things is the ability to use his fame for the greater good.
On Christmas, Marquez Valdes-Scantling will have his third giveaway of duffel bags filled with items for the homeless of his hometown of St. Petersburg, Fla. It’s something he started in 2017 following his senior season at South Florida.
“It’s not about me. It’s about the people that need it,” Valdes-Scantling said last week. “I’ve got a platform to reach out to other people who may not know about the upbringings of other people. To be able to reach out to people and tell them what’s going on down in South St. Pete, where there’s a lot of homeless people and being able to help them out, is great. It’s something I started in college. When I finished my last year in college, I started this thing right after the bowl game. I used my voice and it snowballed into this big thing now.”
This year, he teamed up with Daystar Life Center in St. Petersburg, an organization with a mission of providing “the necessities of life to our neighbors in need.”
The idea sprung from a sermon at Pinellas Community Church in St. Petersburg in the fall of 2017, when the pastor’s message was about one’s purpose in life. Valdes-Scantling’s father, Marcellus, asked his son about his purpose in life. Valdes-Scantling said it was helping the homeless. He quickly turned idea into personal mission. About 60 people were helped that first year; it was about 250 last year, he said. The bags were filled with clothes, toiletries, food, water and more. Also included is a hot meal.
“It’s important to give back to the less fortunate,” he said. “It’s the things that we take for granted, like being able to put on clean socks or turn on the water to brush our teeth. That’s something that the less-fortunate out there don’t have the luxury to do every day. To be able to give them a jacket to put on when it’s cold or a bottle of water to drink when they’re thirsty is important to me.”
Valdes-Scantling had all of those things growing up but he knew there were many others who were not as fortunate. His family had done food and toy drives, and Valdes-Scantling and some of his South Florida teammates took part in a Habitat for Humanity build.
Seeing the reaction of the people receiving the duffel bags is “priceless,” he said. Unfortunately, he’ll miss this year’s giveaway. Christmas falls on a Wednesday and he’ll be in Green Bay for preparation for the regular-season finale against Detroit. That’s OK, though. The impact of the event will last long beyond one day.
“It makes you feel good to be able to help some people out,” he said. “It’s about a month later, when it’s still cold outside and they’ve got a jacket to put on. That’s the most humbling thing about it. It can help them for a really long time with some of the things that you give them. It’s not just about the hot meal that we give them. That’s good for that day but if you give them some warm clothes to sleep at night is even bigger.” Next
Want to help?
The details are here, and there’s a secure link for monetary donations.
“We’ll take any kind of donations,” he said. “Anything that’s clean – new or used – I’m pretty sure the homeless will be very appreciative of anything they receive. If anybody wants to donate or help out, feel free.”