EARTH CITY, Mo. -- For the 20th consecutive year, the St. Louis Rams provided Thanksgiving meals to families in need in the St. Louis area this week. It's a Turkey Day tradition that has existed since the Rams arrived here in 1995.
Never has it been needed more for a community dealing with more than the economic realities of people who might not otherwise be able to afford all the fixings for a Thanksgiving dinner.
With unrest in Ferguson and around the city, there's not much the Rams or anyone can do to help -- at least not until things settle down. But in doing something they've now done for two decades, the Rams offered food and hope in equal portions Tuesday afternoon.
So it was that every single player in the Rams locker room chipped in to raise a total in excess of $35,000 to buy 2,000 Thanksgiving dinners that they then teamed up with the local chapter of the Urban League to distribute to families in need.
Rams center Scott Wells was among the players to hand deliver the meals Tuesday afternoon.
"I think it just shows that everybody in this locker room has a heart for our community," Wells said. "We're all a pretty tight knit community especially with what's going on right now. And it's important to give back. The people of this community come to our games, support us, buy our merchandise so in essence they are helping put food on our table so it's nice to go back and do the same for them."
Wells and his teammates as well as cheerleaders and mascot Rampage spread out across three area locations to distribute the meals, which each included a turkey as well as sides and everything else needed for a Thanksgiving meal.
Traditionally, the defensive line has taken to going mobile and delivering meals to those who can't get to the Urban League locations to receive the meals but the local unrest prevented them from doing it this year. The Rams did, however, make sure that 50 additional meals were delivered to seniors in North St. Louis who were unable to retrieve the food for themselves.
In being out in a community that is going through a gamut of emotions right now, Wells said he and his teammates could feel the desire of people to share in simple moments. At his location, Wells and his teammates stayed for about an extra hour and a half to pose for pictures and take a moment to chat with the families that came to pick up their food.
"I think the community for sure is wanting to show a sign of unity," Wells said. "All the neighborhoods together. You have all the little pockets around St. Louis and I think everybody is wanting to come together because we know right now that national attention is on this area. They want to see how we're going to respond and move forward. I think the general consensus is that everybody wants to come together and support the St. Louis community. This is just an opportunity for us to do that.
"It's a small gesture but during this time of year, it's getting cold outside, people have a hard time providing for their families and much less providing an extravagant Thanksgiving meal. So for us to be able to raise the money in house here from the players, have 100 percent contribution, is definitely a sign that we are trying to do our part even though it's a small gesture to just give back a little bit."
With things remaining tense in Ferguson for the time being, the Rams won't be able to get back to help out directly right away but they always have their eye on finding other ways to get involved. They did it over the summer when they hosted the three area Ferguson high schools at their training facility for practice and offered free tickets to a preseason game. They plan to explore other avenues when tensions ease.
"It's just such a difficult situation," coach Jeff Fisher said. "We had an opportunity to get involved in August with the three football teams and the organization has done some other things. Hopefully, as soon as things settle down then we'll get back involved. As we talked as a group it's our community, it's their neighbors. Everybody cares deeply about what's going on and hopes things can get settled as soon as possible.”