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New Orleans Saints defensive backs D.J. Swearinger, Saquan Hampton provide food for kids, health-care workers in fight against COVID-19

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The population of Greenwood, S.C., is listed at a little more than 23,000. No doubt, the ones who personally might not know New Orleans Saints safety D.J. Swearinger, probably have less than six degrees of separation between them.

Nowadays, the relationship might seem even closer.

Already, Swearinger, who has a foundation aimed at serving underprivileged youth, has seen to it that 2,500 meals have been distributed in his hometown during the COVID-19 shutdown. His goal is to push the total out to at least 10,000 in the next couple of weeks, as he has teamed with Chik-Fil-A to distribute the meals. They especially are designed to help households in which the children ordinarily would be in school and receiving a meal there.

And, not to be outdone by his veteran teammate, second-year safety Saquan Hampton also pitched in back home, donating 30 pizzas each to two local hospitals near where he grew up, RWJ Hamilton in Hamilton Township, N.J., and St. Francis Medical Center in Trenton, N.J.

Swearinger said his goal was to take pressure off parents and make sure the kids and others were "getting fed like they should."

"My foundation is for underprivileged kids," he said. "But this deal that I'm doing every Friday, it's for anybody that needs food. The underprivileged kids usually have free lunch during the school week, but they're not having that free lunch because there's no school. So it's toward the kids that are in need that mainly have free lunch in school.

"I just saw a need, especially when they closed down all the schools. That's different. That's definitely different when you close down all the schools. Parents and the kids, they depend on those meals that they get at school. And when you don't have school they've got to get it from home. Some parents, they can't afford to feed three, four or five kids. So it's something that I wanted to do to try to help out and to try to expand."

Swearinger, a seven-year veteran who agreed to terms on a one-year contract with the Saints this offseason, said he hoped other pro athletes would join him.

"I challenged all the pro athletes to do it because we are the leaders in our community, and we can always find a way to give back," he said. "Especially when times are bad. It's easy to give back when times are good, but when it's bad, that's when you can take strides and bring people together."

Swearinger said that anyone who wants to assist him can do so via his link, anth3mcares.org.

"Anybody can go to it and if they want to help donate, they can do that," he said.

For Hampton, likewise, he wanted to provide some relief in the community where he grew up. And, especially, he wanted to do it for people on the front lines, dealing with those who have contracted the virus.

"Just wanting to give back to the community and show appreciation to the health-care workers that are out there sacrificing themselves to make sure that we're all safe," Hampton said.

"I've always wanted to do things to give back to the community where I'm from. I saw older guys like (defensive end) Cam Jordan, and just watching things that they do, how they were giving back, it kind of inspired me and gave me ideas of what I can do as well just to make an impact."

Hampton has taken note of just how many Saints players have made donations.

"I think it just goes to show the good leadership that's in the locker room," he said. "Those guys that are in there that have been playing for years are good role models, good men and they lead by example. So a younger guy like me just follows their lead and learns from them."

And he said he's not finished.

"I definitely plan on doing more stuff," Hampton said. "I haven't come to a conclusion on what yet, but I'm definitely always thinking of things to do that are different to give back in the community."

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