TAMPA, Fla. - The Home Depot, the world's largest home improvement retailer and 'official home improvement sponsor' of the National Football League, announced Wednesday that Jason Witten is The Home Depot NFL Neighborhood MVP for the 2008 season. The Home Depot NFL Neighborhood MVP is a national program that recognizes players who are making a positive impact in their local communities through charitable programs and contributions.
Witten was chosen for the award through an online consumer voting contest, which received more than 250,000 votes nationwide. He was one of 17 NFL players honored through the program this year and one of eight program finalists. Warrick Dunn was honored as The Home Depot NFL Neighborhood MVP for the 2007 season.
Witten and the seven Neighborhood MVP finalists rolled up their sleeves today and worked alongside community and The Home Depot associate volunteers to build a state-of-the-art KaBOOM! playground for kids in East Tampa in just one day. In a break in the action, the players were recognized for their good works and Witten was announced the program MVP. A $25,000 donation was presented to Witten's foundation.
Witten was honored for the work he does through the Jason Witten S.C.O.R.E. Foundation, an organization Witten founded in 2007 to provide support and assistance for families and individuals affected by domestic violence. In 2008, the foundation instituted the SCOREkeepers male mentor program in six women's shelters throughout Texas in an effort to provide positive male influences for children affected by domestic violence. S.C.O.R.E. also opened the Jason Witten Media Center at the Boys & Girls Club of Dallas and the Jason Witten Literacy Center in Witten's hometown of Elizabethton, Tenn.
"Jason Witten is a class act on and off the field, and The Home Depot is pleased to be associated with such a strong role model," said Frank Bifulco, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at The Home Depot. "Jason's commitment to addressing domestic violence has positively impacted thousands of lives, and his enthusiasm for giving back is a value fundamental to The Home Depot and the NFL."
During the regular season, The Home Depot built 17 playgrounds, one for each week of the regular season, in each MVP's local market and made donations to the charities of their choice. Each player worked alongside representatives from KaBOOM!, a national nonprofit, local community partners and volunteers from The Home Depot to complete the building projects in just one day. Throughout this process, more than 2,600 The Home Depot associates donated more than 21,000 hours of service. More than 11,800 children and families will have safer places to play as a result of the new playgrounds.
The other players honored as part of The Home Depot NFL Neighborhood MVP program in 2008-2009 included: Keith Brooking, Atlanta Falcons; Vernon Carey, Miami Dolphins; Nate Clements, San Francisco 49ers; Brian Dawkins, Philadelphia Eagles; Braylon Edwards, Cleveland Browns; Bobby Engram, Seattle Seahawks; Mike Furrey, Detroit Lions; Chad Greenway, Minnesota Vikings; Andre Johnson, Houston Texans; Kassim Osgood, San Diego Chargers; Samari Rolle, Baltimore Ravens; Steve Smith, Carolina Panthers; Charles Tillman, Chicago Bears; Amani Toomer, New York Giants; Kurt Warner*, Arizona Cardinals; and Ty Warren, New England Patriots.
Through the Neighborhood MVP program, The Home Depot again teamed with United Way® to recognize consumers who are making a positive impact in their local communities. Christine Alexander was selected as this year's Community All-Star based on her work with New Haven Reads, an organization she founded six years ago to increase youth literacy in New Haven, Conn. The Home Depot also honored one of its store associates as the Associate Neighborhood MVP. Christine Colella associate at store No. 8526 in Palm Springs, Calif., was honored for her efforts in feeding the homeless. Both honorees received an all-expense paid trip to Super Bowl XLIII, where they helped the NFL MVP finalists build the All-Star playground.