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Lift Up America Celebrates Bay Area Launch

by Staff Writer / San Jose Sharks
Lift Up America celebrated its Northern California / Bay Area launch by teaming up with the San Jose Sharks and eight local non-profit mentoring agencies on Saturday night to bring more than 150 youth to the Sharks game.

Pizza and hockey were a great combination for the youth involved, but autographs from injured Sharks players and a visit from S.J. Sharkie were the highlights.

In addition to Marcel Goc and Tomas Plihal stopping by, Sharks President and Chief Executive Officer Greg Jamison, Sharks radio play-by-play man Dan Rusanowsky and Andrew Galea, deputy chief for the San Jose Police Department’s Bureau of Investigations, were on hand to speak to the children.

"It's always great when you can help people out, especially kids," said Marcel Goc.

"We take a great deal of pride in making a difference in our community through events like this and through the Sharks Foundation," said Sharks President and Chief Executive Officer Greg Jamison.

Lift Up America was founded in 2004 by Dave Hannah with the mission of providing important necessities to families and instilling hope in the hearts of the nation’s less fortunate.

Each year, at large visible outreach events, Lift Up America partners with individuals, corporations, non-profit agencies, professional and college sports teams and the motion picture industry to provide recognition, support, services and hope to the families of our nation’s working poor. All the partners come together to honor children and their families and provide them with products, gifts and services donated by sponsors.

The first Lift Up America event took place in December 2004, after the Miami Dolphins, Kansas City Chiefs and Tyson Foods along with more than 30 charitable organizations distributed 74,000 pounds of frozen chicken and 10,000 Ty Beanie Babies in the sports teams’ hometowns. Since its inception, Lift Up America has brought people together in 28 cities in 19 states to help less-fortunate families.

Lift Up America Bay Area’s vision is to support the work of the nonprofits that deliver services to families and children in need and to encourage adults to volunteer to serve as mentors, which has been proven as having the most direct and lasting impact on the lives of young people.

“Mentoring has been proven to be one of the easiest ways to make a difference in a child’s life and local nonprofits are in need of positive and caring role models to connect with at-risk children,” said Kevin Osborn, Northern California city director of Lift Up America Bay Area.

Lift Up America Bay Area will use large-stadium events to reward children for their success in school and active participation in their mentoring programs, honor their mentors for providing a positive influence, raise awareness for the nonprofits, provide corporate organizations a platform for recognition of their donations and spread the message to the audience that “mentoring is cool.”

In San Jose, Lift Up America has partnered with the Sharks and Tyson Foods to distribute more than 120,000 pounds of chicken over the last four years.

The new Lift Up America Bay Area will host six to eight events a year with collegiate and professional sports teams in the South Bay, East Bay and San Francisco to create awareness of its movement that “mentoring is cool.”

For this first event, Lift Up America Bay Area is partnering with the San Jose Sharks and eight local nonprofits: Alum Rock Counseling Center, Project We H.O.P.E., Fresh Lifelines for Youth, Christian Fellowship of Athletes, California Community Partners for Youth, California School for the Deaf in Fremont, Junior Achievement of Silicon Valley and Monterey Bay, Inc. and The Role Model Program.

Each nonprofit has a mentoring component and selected the children who would participate as a reward for their improved performance in school and activities outside of the classroom.

“Many of these kids have or never will have the opportunity to see a hockey game,” Eric Hannah said. “What we are learning is that many of these kids haven’t ventured beyond four or five blocks from their house. Providing new experiences for these kids ignites their spirit in the most incredible way and expands their world view. What we have found from the CEOs and owners who we have worked with and who came from disadvantaged backgrounds is that it took one moment, one situation or one person to make them say, ‘I want to change my life.’ ”

As the children left the arena, they received goody bags filled with gifts from the sponsors including tickets to Great America, jewelry from Cookie Lee and Jelly Bellies. Many children will eventually receive eye exams and new pairs of eyeglasses from Give the Gift of Sight.

“Lift Up America is proud of the partnership and team spirit between these great corporations,” said Dave Hannah, chairman and founder of Lift Up America. “It is important, especially in tough economic times, that all couples and individuals identify ways that they can give back.”

About Lift Up America:
Founded in 2004, Lift Up America is a collaborative effort of national partners that includes caring companies such as Tyson Foods, Give the Gift of Sight (a Luxottica Group Foundation), Starkey Hearing Foundation, Ty Inc., Cinemark Holdings, Inc., Interstate Batteries and 37 pro and college sports teams and local non-profit agencies to provide the gift of food, sight, hearing, hope and comfort to our nation’s less fortunate.

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