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Hometown Huddle 2014 with Marcel Reece

The Oakland Raiders visited Parker Elementary School in Oakland, Calif., Tuesday afternoon for the NFL and United Way's annual Hometown Huddle. FB Marcel Reece, RB Darren McFadden, T Khalif Barnes, CB Taiwan Jones and S Tyvon Branch helped promote active and healthy living with the students of the Eagle Village After School Program.

"We're hosting Hometown Huddle. It's our 16th year in partnership with the Oakland Raiders," said Ari Warmerdam, Director of Corporate Relations for the United Way in the Bay Area. "We're excited. This is our first year at Parker Elementary and Eagle Village After School Program. It's an annual service event we host with the Raiders and we're really excited. This year the primary focus is playing 60 and being active for 60 minutes because that contributes to a healthy body which in turn will create a healthy mind, and students will be able to learn that."

Reece, the Raiders United Way ambassador, took the lead and spoke with the students about staying physically active and doing the right things to be better students and healthier kids. The Raiders presence was important for the Eagle Village students. "I think they just get an opportunity to have an experience they've never had before," said Derek Lindsey, Site Coordinator for the after school program. "One of the big things our after school program really tries to emphasize is exposure. We try to expose them to new things so they can discover new things about themselves. Today some young people, who have dreams of becoming a professional athletes, or maybe even trainers, or something in sports science or sports medicine, can actually get their first taste of their future."

FB Marcel Reece and his teammates had fun with Parker Elementary School students during the NFL/United Way Hometown Huddle.

The Raiders players wanted to make sure the students understood the message of the NFL and United Way. "We came out and talked to the kids about staying healthy, at least for 60 minutes a day. With all the technology stuff going today with all the video games, and twitter and all the social networking, a lot of kids are getting lazy just staying in the building too much," said Barnes. "We came out here and did a little relay race and just put some activity into it and try to cheer them and just let them know to go out there and have fun every once in a while and not be cooped up in the house all the time."

They reinforced the message by going out to the Parker Elementary School blacktop to play for 60 minutes. "I think the main message for the kids is to walk away with an inspired sense of knowing that activity and leading a healthy lifestyle will lead to not only long-term success and being healthy, but long-term success in the classroom, which will inspire them to go to school," said Warmerdam.

The players had a great time leading the drills and laughing with the kids. "I had a blast. We put the kids through some drills, taught them some stretches and talked to them about the importance of getting outside and being active, eating right. It was a good event," said Branch.

"Today was just pure fun," added Jones. "As you can tell from the smiles out here, the kids really enjoyed it. We got a chance to take them through a few drills and play catch with them and show off our dance moves."

Reece and his teammates appreciated the opportunity to give back to their local community. "Today is like a breath of fresh air for us. No matter what you go through, no matter what happens, no matter what's going on throughout the season, there comes a time when you're just able to give back and give everything that you have to kids," said Reece. "I love coming down to give back to the community. I just try to let these kids know that I come from a very similar place to where they come from. I didn't always have all the opportunities of Hometown Huddles and people coming back and letting me know that I can make it."

It was obvious from the energy that the students were happy and excited to be spending time with the Raiders. "Running up and down on the blacktop is not fun, but they loved it and they were having a blast," said Barnes. "You could see the excitement in a lot of the kid's faces. They just wanted to come out here and they love spending time with us, and just that our presence can bring a reaction like that to a kid is priceless."

McFadden embraces the opportunities to give back to kids in the heart of Oakland. "Just being a role model and giving back to the community…Growing up in the inner city as a kid, for me, I didn't have anyone to come out and talk to me about things like this and try to keep me on the right path," said McFadden. "Anytime I can come out and just give the kids any advice to stay on the right path, it's something I like doing."

Jones, who was born and raised in the Bay Area, likes to show other local kids that it's possible to reach their dreams. "The kids, they watch us on TV and think we're big stars, but I think it's a good thing to show them we're reachable and where we're at is reachable," he said.

The Raiders participate in Hometown Huddle every year and were happy to help bring it to Parker Elementary. "Anytime you can come out here and give back to the kids like that, we love being able to do it," said McFadden. "You can come out here and tell them something that will stick with them for a lifetime."

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