New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram II, along with several of his teammates, hosted a shopping event on Monday, Dec. 18 geared toward a group of children from the Mentoring Children of Promise Program through Volunteers of America. The program matches caring adults with youth who have a parent in prison in hopes of giving these young people extra acceptance, attention, encouragement, guidance and hope. Every year since Ingram’s rookie season, he has hosted events like this one for children that participate in this program.
Like the children in this program, Ingram also experienced a parent being incarcerated at a young age. He knows the importance of giving back to someone that he has something in common with.
“The odds are that there is over a 60 percent chance that the same situation may happen to someone who has had a parent incarcerated”, Ingram said prior to sharing a few words of wisdom. “Stay focused and confident. Do well in school and set high goals. Keep positive people in your corner at all times. Always put God first. Lastly, listen to your loved ones.”
Ingram strives to help families like these affected to overcome the odds.
Each child was paired with Saints players at a local department score and given a $100 gift card to buy gifts of their choice. As they roamed throughout the aisles with smiles and laughter they seemed to really be enjoying themselves.
Most of the children sought out gifts for their families, especially their siblings. One young man yelled out that he wanted a hover board. While another little girl browsed through the footballs searching for the perfect gift for her older brother. After approximately 45 minutes of shopping, the children and players came back together and each child was given autographed yearbooks signed by the participating players.
Among the players who participated were quarterback Drew Brees and his family, wide receiver Brandon Coleman, running back Trey Edmunds, defensive end Cam Jordan, defensive end Hau’oli Kikaha, running back Daniel Lasco, fullback Zach Line, wide receiver Drew Brees, and running back Jonathan Williams. A few of the players, including Lasco and Snead, mentioned their commonality with the children and Ingram. They reassured the children that they are not alone and to continue to strive for greatness.