COSTA MESA, Calif. – The Eagles' players have their focus in the right place this week in California – attention is turned to Sunday's game against the Los Angeles Rams. But a large group of players also took some of their off time and turned it into helping time in the area community.
Two off-the-field events highlighted the Eagles' continued commitment to the community in California – Monday a handful of players, seven in all, visited a local Habitat for Humanity project and donned work bibs and protective glasses and got to work hammering, drilling, and building.
To put it in perspective, the players arrived at their California hotel at 3:30 that morning after an overnight flight from Seattle following Sunday's loss.
"It's a commitment I've made to be part of the community and help as much as I can," wide receiver Torrey Smith said. "It's something I've done my whole career. It means a lot to me to help as much as I can."
On Tuesday, the team's rookie class visited the local Ronald McDonald's House and spent time with children and their families. The Ronald McDonald House Charities, which began in Philadelphia in 1974 with then-Eagles owner Leonard Tose and general manager Jim Murray playing a huge part in the origin, has spread around the world, forming new and independent branches in over 50 regions and countries.
"It's come full circle with the Eagles being here today," said Noel Burcelis, the executive director of the Orange County Ronald McDonald House. "It started in Philadelphia with Fred Hill (a tight end with the Eagles from 1965 to 1971) and his daughter and now his team, his colleagues are here."
Each Ronald McDonald House accommodates families with seriously ill children and the Orange County location last year welcomed in over 2,500 guests consisting of 803 families.
"We're here to express our gratitude for the Philadelphia Eagles," Burcelis said.
While he was playing with the Eagles, Hill learned that his 5-year-old daughter, Kim, had been diagnosed with leukemia and the organization rallied around Hill's family and formed the *Eagles Fly for Leukemia *program in 1972. As the program grew and expanded, the Ronald McDonald House opened on Spruce Street in Philadelphia.
Hill was present on Tuesday to see the Eagles take part.
"It means so much that the team is here," Hill said. "I'm so excited that the Eagles are having such a great season and that they've taken time to be here. We have a championship team here. I have so many Eagles fans here in California and we're all pulling for them."
One of the rookies who attended, running back Corey Clement, was deeply touched by the scene.
"We want to make sure that it's not all about us," Clement said. "It's about the other people in the community who deserve a special part in our lives as well. The more we give back, the better it feels."
Eagles rookies visited the Orange County Ronald McDonald House and helped honor former Eagles tight end Fred Hill.