Rams 'Hands Up, Don't Shoot' players to attend Urban League Christmas party in Ferguson



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ST. LOUIS — Jared Cook wants to be more than hands up, he wants to be hands on this holiday season.

The St. Louis Rams tight end and four other players who recently did the "Hands Up, Don't Shoot" gesture are following through on plans to aid residents in nearby Ferguson, Missouri.

Cook and wide receivers Kenny Britt, Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey and Chris Givens contributed $10,000 to an Urban League of St. Louis Christmas Party on Friday for residents of Ferguson and north St. Louis County.

Their donations helped purchase gloves, hats, socks, underwear, non-perishable food items, detergent, personal hygiene items and 200 coats.

"It's small but it adds up," Cook said of the donations. "It may save parents a few dollars here or there that they can maybe spend on a child's toys or other things around the house.

"What we give needs to be given, and it doesn't really need to be publicized."

After practice Friday for the home finale against the New York Giants on Sunday, the five players planned to attend the event.

"We're just going there because of what's going on around the country," Britt said, "and to show the people in Ferguson we're not just here to protest, we're here to help fix the community as well."

It's not a team function, probably just the five who came out of the tunnel before the Oakland game earlier this month, but Rams coach Jeff Fisher approves.

"It doesn't surprise me," Fisher said. "Guys have done an awful lot over there that does not draw attention, so it makes sense that over the holidays guys would get involved."

There'll be plenty of fun items, too.

"We've got toys, it's a lot of stuff. It's going to be exciting, man. I'm excited about it," Cook said. "I've been waiting on this. It's going to be a good time."

The Urban League anticipates 250-300 people for a party that will include food and games.

"It's a pretty good deed," Bailey. "I'm all about that, especially this time of the year. To give back, it's a good feeling for us all."

The day after players did the "hands up" gesture before the Rams' 52-0 victory over the Raiders, Cook promised the team would do more to help those affected by rioting and protests. There's been much strife in the St. Louis suburb since early August, when Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, was fatally shot by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, who is white.

Violence and protests spiked anew after a grand jury declined to indict Ferguson on criminal charges. The "hands up" gesture has become the rallying cry of protesters around the nation.

"My kids have to grow up in this country, too," Britt said. "I hope it's a better country than I grew up in, and what we're going through today.

"Ten or 15 years from now, we don't want to have the same conversation."

Rams linebacker Alec Ogletree and Cardinals Hall of Famer Lou Brock appeared on a video on the Urban League website seeking holiday season donations. Later Friday, the Urban League scheduled a Toys for Ferguson event.

Earlier this month, the Rams franchise made a $50,000 donation to a local police charity after the players protest drew the ire of local law enforcement officials. A check was presented before last Thursday's home game against the Cardinals to the Backstoppers, which provides financial assistance to families of police officers, firefighters and paramedics killed in the line of duty.


AP NFL website: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_NFL

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