WINTER WARMUP DELIVERY

Raising Cane’s and BEDGEAR help Wesley Matthews and the Dallas Mavericks donate a record-number of winter items for area homeless recovery shelter

By Tamara Jolee | Digital Story: Jonathan Lim

DALLAS – Tucked away in the Farmers Market District of downtown Dallas is a sprawling campus that houses and serves over 800 residents in desperate need of a second chance.

They are the unlikely faces of our city’s homeless population – former pastors, business executives, college professors, veterans and more – who have nowhere else to turn and now rely on the food, shelter, clothing, resources and education found at The Bridge Homeless Recovery Center, an internationally-recognized facility that gives hope to those in need.

“Homelessness is something a lot of people don’t like to discuss and it’s huge to have someone like Wesley Matthews use his platform to promote change and make a direct impact in our community,” said Dr. David Woody III, the President and CEO at The Bridge Homeless Recovery Center.

This week, Wesley Matthews and the Dallas Mavericks – along with executives from Raising Cane’s and BEDGEAR—arrived at The Bridge to deliver a record-breaking number of winter items and bedding gear for homeless residents.

The event was a culmination of efforts pledged by Matthews and the Dallas Mavericks during the annual Mavs Winter Warm Up Drive, said Katie Edwards, Dallas Mavericks Vice President of Community Relations.

“Wes has done a coat drive for many years,” Edwards noted, “and to have his support again is amazing. Today is an exciting day because it marks the end of the Mavs Winter Warm Up Drive and now we come together and deliver all the items donated by fans during the last month. We get to see the faces of the people directly impacted by the donations.”

The Mavs Winter Warm Up Drive launched the first week of December when Matthews once again worked the drive through at Raising Cane’s, a chicken-finger-centric restaurant chain known for their special sauce and rapid growth in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. Wes challenged Raising Cane’s customers to donate and drop-off new or gently-used winter items during the Mavs Care Season of Giving.

Matthews said customers responded in record-breaking fashion.

Thousands of items poured in from the community, ensuring more homeless individuals stay warm this winter.

“Raising Cane’s has been incredible this whole time,” Matthews said. “They’ve stepped up above and beyond, more than we can ever imagine. They see my passion and work in the community, and it’s been rivaled. The customers were really committed. We had coats, jackets, blankets, socks…just thousands of items contributed that will go straight to people here at The Bridge.”

This year’s Winter Warm Up Drive also marked the continuation of a partnership with BEDGEAR, a company founded in 2009 by a former quarterback named Eugene Alletto who’s revolutionized the traditional bedding industry by developing performance-based sleep products to promote better sleep.

Alleto started the company after his son developed allergies and he could only find hypoallergenic bedding that was hot and stuffy. Frustrated by a lack of options available, he cut up breathable lacrosse shorts and sewed them back together as sheets for his son’s bed. Turns out he was onto something – and performance bedding was born and quickly caught fire with professional athletes like the Dallas Mavericks and Wesley Matthews.

Matthews and the Mavs wanted to ensure homeless guests at The Bridge received that same quality of sleep, so for this year’s Mavs Winter Warm Up, the team partnered with BEDGEAR and donated over 100 blankets and pillows to the residents.

It’s a life-changing endeavor, said Dr. Woody, who noted that coats and bedding are essential in recovery efforts for area homelessness.

“Here at The Bridge we are big on educating folks on how it is a person would choose to be homeless,” he said, “because there are many elements in play. Then we share that we’re not just a shelter. We’re a place of recovery that offers hope and allows folks to identify this place as their home. The donation from BEDGEAR is huge and plays a monumental role in their recovery because many of these individuals don’t get anything new. Today Wesley and the Mavs came in here and gave them a coat, their own pillows and blankets and it’s life-changing for them.”

Wesley says it’s moments like this that remind him why he plays basketball.

“It’s easy to get consumed with a stat line, or a win or a big game or a loss,” Matthews said. “But once you leave the arena, you’re back to who you are as a person beyond the court. The person you are to this world, the legacy you want to leave and who you want to be as an individual.

“The Winter Warm Up Drive and working in the community keeps me focused on the bigger picture. It’s a blessing to be able to play basketball for a living, but the biggest blessing is to try and be an impactful human being and that’s what I want to be known for.”

Matthews notes it’s the same kind of philosophy and belief system also shared by company executives with his partners at the Dallas Mavericks, Raising Cane’s, BEDGEAR, and The Bridge, and that’s why he looks forward to the Mavs Winter Warm Up each year.

“It’s the people that have sacrificed and donated, people who are selfless and give their time to genuinely make their world and community a better place.”

“When my daughter reads about her dad someday, I want her to know I gave it everything I had. Good, bad, indifferent. Love me. Hate me. Wins, losses. Highs and lows. I’m going to give you everything that I have in the community, on the court, my family to my friends. That’s how I was raised. That’s how I was brought up and that’s how I’m going to raise her. And the truth is, it takes a village. From the Mavs, to Raising Cane’s, BEDGEAR, The Bridge, my teammates, the fans…we all come together and do our part. It’s pretty special to witness.”

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ABOUT MAVS OFF COURT: The Dallas Mavericks strive to be champions on the court and in the community. We are dedicated to building a stronger community through educational programs, health and wellness initiatives, environmental efforts, support for military veterans, and grants to nonprofit organizations. Through our community programs and the Mavs Foundation, we are changing lives in North Texas and have impacted thousands of children, families and communities. Learn more at Mavs.com/Community. @MavsOffCourt

ABOUT THE BRIDGE – HOMELESS RECOVERY CENTER, DALLAS, TEXAS: For nearly 11 years The Bridge has facilitated recovery from homelessness for individuals without a home in Dallas County, twenty-four hours per day, seven days a week. The only shelter in Dallas providing day and night shelter, basic need services include hot showers, food, haircuts, Physical Health Evaluations and Mental Health Assessments for nearly 800 guests every day. Through collaborative relationships with services partners, The Bridge creates a one stop shop for a guest’s implementing their Care and Housing Plan, or strategy for exiting homelessness. Learn more at www.bridgenorthtexas.org.

ABOUT RAISING CANE’S®: Founded by Todd Graves in 1996 in Baton Rouge, La., RAISING CANE’S CHICKEN FINGERS has more than 385 restaurants in 24+ states, Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia, with multiple new restaurants under construction. The company has ONE LOVE®—quality chicken finger meals—and is continually recognized for its unique business model and customer satisfaction. Raising Cane’s vision is to have restaurants all over the world and be the brand for quality chicken finger meals, a great crew, cool culture and active community involvement. More information is available at raisingcanes.com.

About BEDGEAR® PERFORMANCE®: Sleep was boring until 2009 when BEDGEAR® redefined sleep as an activity with their patented heat and the first moisture management fabric technologies, which create a more awake and connected population. As the only brand of Performance sleep products, the company introduced personalized fit pillows and mattresses, providing 100% of total sleep comfort based on an individual’s sleep position and body frame. BEDGEAR is proud to manufacture in the U.S., and focuses their innovation on being additive and supportive of specialty retailers. BEDGEAR’s products are sold in more than 4,000 retail stores across the globe and have earned more than 100 U.S. trademark registrations. Since inception, BEDGEAR has partnered with professional athletes, and has become the choice of more than 15 professional and Olympic sports teams and to the world’s largest marathon, the TCS New York City Marathon. The brand currently features over 200 individual athletes and opinion leaders that sleep on personalized fit products as part of their training regimens. Throughout the years, BEDGEAR has become an iconic American brand that has grown beyond borders to a global footprint from which they’re driving World Peace through commerce. Sleep Fuels Everything®! Learn more at bedgear.com.

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