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'This is what you want for the holidays'

Eagles, Chickie's and Pete's partner to deliver more than hot meals for the homeless.

It's about more than serving hot meals. It's about more than donating cold-weather clothing.

On Wednesday, the Eagles teamed up with Chickie's and Pete's to deliver meals, clothing, and hygiene products to Bethesda Project's Our Brothers' Place, located in the Callowhill section of Philadelphia. The homeless shelter would host around 150 men each night before the COVID pandemic. That doesn't include the people who stop by throughout the day for meals and social service support.

During this holiday season, many of the men who stay at Our Brothers' Place don't have family or friends to visit. Wednesday's event let these men know that there are plenty of people thinking of them and willing to offer support.

"When the Eagles come on-site and they're bringing coats and food, it just highlights to our guys that, 'Wow, I'm important. Someone sees me, people know that I exist, that I'm here,'" said Kharisma Goldston, the Bethesda Project's director of shelter. "We serve the most vulnerable population in Philadelphia, so those who are struggling with mental health, drug and alcohol substance use, people with no income or low income, and we actively work to get them sustainable housing within the City of Philadelphia."

The Eagles turned to Chickie's and Pete's in order to provide the longtime partner a boost this holiday season. The COVID pandemic has severely impacted several industries, especially the restaurant business.

"At this time of year and given the year that we've had, everyone's very thankful," said Don Smolenski, Eagles team president. "There are people out there who are struggling, having a more difficult time."

Smolenski and Chickie's and Pete's owner and founder Pete Ciarrocchi were on-site to deliver the meals and clothing.

"This is what you want for the holidays. This is what Christmas is all about, giving," said Ciarrocchi, who was in awe at the fact that some of the men at Our Brothers' Place are veterans who served our country. "Down deep, we think we're doing something for them, but they're actually doing something for us. That's the way I feel. That I'm getting more out of it than they are."

Goldston explained how the COVID pandemic has "really highlighted the need for affordable housing within Philadelphia," and that food insecurity is still problematic.

"Those numbers have increased," she said. "I'm grateful that we have a fantastic social service team that has actively worked to ensure that we're not having any lapses in coverage. It also means that we're doing an active role in making sure that we're keeping our guests safe, first and foremost, and our staff safe, making sure that everyone who comes to our doors feels welcomed and that they know that they have a safe place to sleep at night."

One of Bethesda Project's mottos is, "To make for those that have none." Wednesday's event provided an escape from what has been a tumultuous time for many.

"This is just a great day," Goldston said. "It's like hanging out with your family and friends. You don't have to think about the horrors of the world."

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