JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - It should come as no surprise that Jaguars defensive lineman Malik Jackson spent his off day this week giving out gift cards to veterans. In his short time here, Jackson has been a constant contributor to a number of programs from pets to veterans and today was no exception. However, his generosity came full circle with one veteran that he touched on Monday.
In association with Academy Sports on Atlantic Blvd. Malik Jackson and his foundation gave away $150 gift cards to Academy Sports to 10 selected veterans from the Five Star Veteran Center. The center's goal is to provide safe housing, a full complement of health and wellness services, reunite veterans with their families, and help with education and job preparedness. Len Loving is the C.E.O. of Five Star Veteran Center and says that they are very thankful for people like Mailk Jackson.
"It means a lot," says Loving. "It tells the veterans that we have that people really care for them and you have someone with this celebrity status of a NFL player such as Mailk who takes the time to come and participate. Just to talk and listen to what these veterans have to say, they get a lot of enjoyment with him."
One veteran who received a gift card was Mike Durden but he wasn't interested in spending it on himself. Durden wasted no time putting a large turkey fryer in his cart and went straight to the checkout line. When Jackson asked him if his family was going to use the fryer for Thanksgiving, Durden said no. He bought it to give to the Five Star Veteran Center so they can cook turkeys every year and also use it for low country boils for his fellow veterans.
"I just wanted to use it for something awesome," Durden said.
Jackson agreed that the selflessness of these and every veteran is why he does what he does.
"It is a beautiful thing that the veterans do for us but I just want to make sure that people remember what they did for us. It is important for me to work with these people who are doing a great thing and continue to work with them."
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