By now most fans have at least heard of or seen the ESPN special with William Hayes and Chris Long going “undercover” as homeless people on the downtown streets. But the St. Louis Rams defensive linemen aren’t done with their attempts to raise awareness or funds to help the homeless as both were at Busch Stadium near the Stan Musial statue on Wednesday afternoon collecting donations for the St. Patrick Center.
“We’re out here asking for money for a good cause, that day we’re out panhandling–it’s not exactly a parallel necessarily, but it just shows you how much more people want to see us with our jerseys on with a helmet in our hands and want to talk to us,” said Long. “I think the message would just be you never know who’s standing on the side of the road and take them in to learn people’s story. I think it just goes to show people can, through football, raise money for a good cause and hopefully we’ll do that today.”
The “Sack Homelessness” campaign by the Rams defensive line, which contributes money for each of their sacks, has raised nearly $150,000 over the last couple of seasons. During the last year, Hayes has also been involved in a number of other projects to help those without homes through the St. Patrick Center.
“Because I’m really passionate about kids,” explained Hayes. “The idea that there’s actually kids out there going without. I just want to kind of shine more light on it so nationally, it can get more attention. That’s what this whole mission was to do, I think it was well-received and it actually got more attention. This something Chris and I are going to continue to pursue.”
“I respect homeless people ten times more than what I did,” added Hayes. “Everyday you’re trying to figure out where you’re going to get your next meal, where you going to try and find shelter, what you’re going to do to try for just warmth. They have real situations. At the end of the day, I was ignorant to think most homeless people, they just, people might not want to work. As I got a chance doing all these events I did last year, I learned a lot about homeless situations…a lot of people have mental issues. I think that’s the biggest thing where homelessness comes from. It’s a little bit more of a sensitive subject once I got to learn about it and I took the time to really study it.”
More information on the #CantLookAway program and the St. Patrick Center is available online at www.stpatrickcenter.org/get-involved.