From the NY Times fifthdown blog:
in New Orleans, the Saints are more than a football team. In Central City, they have become a beacon to a community that needs as much hope and positive reinforcement as possible.
For the last 17 years, Saints players have conducted a Thanksgiving program in which players distribute thousands of baskets.
The day after the Tampa Bay game on Nov. 22, 26 Saints players went to the Y.M.C.A. and distributed Thanksgiving baskets.
“The players do a lot of great things with us,” said Douglas Evans.
Evans has been the president and chief executive of the Dryades Y.M.C.A. for the last 39 years.
The Saints helped Dryades organize the midnight basketball program as an anticrime approach in the community to get kids off the street. The Benson Hoops Midnight Basketball program is anchored at the Y.
Evans said that the Saints’ success had generated a winning attitude.
“When you look at a Dallas, the expectation in that community is that they win, when you look at New York, the expectation in that community is that the Yankees win. That in and of itself raises the expectation level of everyone when you are expected to do something.”
The Saints lost their first game of the season on Saturday night, but Evans said the atmosphere surrounding the team continued to be jubilant.
“We’ve already won in the sense that you still have this outpouring inspirational moment in the community,” he said.
“Are we disappointed? Yes. But therein comes the hope and the desire that we will make it to the Super Bowl.”
hattip: Voices of New Orleans blog .