Athletes by Alessandro Malave June 19, 2020
Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford is a positive light in a dark time. The 22-year-old English footballer put his case forward for free school meals to be provided for financially-struggling families in the U.K, and now has the government making changes to their own policies.
Rashford’s actions have even caused football leagues to adjust their policies on Black Lives Matter campaigns. It is a fantastic act of humanity in a time of global uncertainty, and Rashford has become another athlete using their platform to make a substantial contribution.
During the earlier months of the pandemic, Rashford was involved in online gaming tournaments for charity. He also reserved Manchester United tickets for workers in the U.K’s National Health Service. Neither of these philanthropic acts would measure up to his next project, however.
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All for a good cause fundraising for @unicef_uk. Me and @dhtekkz Vs @danerashford @dwainemaynard 🎮⚽️
Rashford teamed up with FareShare to provide free school meals for vulnerable children in financially-stricken situations. In May, he made a sizable personal donation of £100,000, raising supermarket interest in the project. On June 11, Rashford announced that the project had reached over 3 million children nationwide.
And whilst I’m celebrating this, there is SO much more to do. Trust me when I say, I will keep fighting until no child in the UK has to worry about where their next meal is coming from. This is England in 2020 and families need help (2)
— Marcus Rashford (@MarcusRashford) June 11, 2020
The numbers kept growing as Tesco, Asda, and Co-op each made their own personal donations. By June 19, more than £20 million had been raised.
“We don’t know how long this is going to go on for, and it’s just something that, if this had happened 10 or 15 years ago, it definitely would have affected myself in the position I was in when I was a kid,” Rashford told Independent U.K.
“It was just something that I thought if there’s a way to try and help people and kids especially then let’s just try and do it.”
Rashford was not content with his progress, though. On June 15, he wrote an open letter to the government calling on them to end child poverty in the United Kingdom. “This is not about politics; this is about humanity,” Rashford wrote.
“Looking at ourselves in the mirror and feeling like we did everything we could to protect those who can’t, for whatever reason or circumstance, protect themselves. Political affiliations aside, can we not all agree that no child should be going to bed hungry?”
Rashford also pushed his letter beyond childhood hunger, addressing the current worldwide racial tensions. He used his own experiences as an example, citing the difference that his community has made in his life. “As a black man from a low-income family in Wythenshawe, Manchester, I could have been just another statistic,” Rashford continued.
“Understand: without the kindness and generosity of the community I had around me, there wouldn’t be the Marcus Rashford you see today: a 22-year old black man lucky enough to make a career playing a game I love.”
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I know you guys haven’t heard from me in a few days. I’ve been trying to process what is going on in the world. At a time I’ve been asking people to come together, work together and be united, we appear to me more divided than ever. People are hurting and people need answers. Black lives matter. Black culture matters. Black communities matter. We matter. #justiceforgeorgefloyd #justiceforahmaudarbery #justiceforbreonnataylor
The letter set off a flame. The following day, the U.K government announced policy changes regarding the extension of free meals for school children during the summer holidays. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a £120 “COVID Summer Food Fund.”
Families who had previously earned free school meals will now receive a summer voucher worth £15 weekly for the duration of the school break, which will be applicable in nearly all supermarkets. Over one-million children will reportedly receive the benefits.
🗣 to all MPs pic.twitter.com/Dc4weMvTHN
— Marcus Rashford (@MarcusRashford) June 16, 2020
Rashford’s actions have given athletes a good name. Alongside Stephen Jackson, LeBron James, and multiple other professional athletes, Rashford is using his compensation and platform to make a community-driven difference. All too often, athletes have been criticized for their lack of judgement and reckless behavior due to fame. Because of what he’s doing, Rashford has provided his cohort of professionals with a sense of goodness. He has reinforced the idea that wealthy athletes can offer more than television entertainment.
Likewise, Rashford has been monumental in the Black Lives Matter campaign by demonstrating the ability to stand up and make a difference. A Black man himself, Rashford has not only been outspoken about the racial issues, but has also demonstrated a level of action.
By using his time and value to help hungry children, Rashford is providing a source of invaluable representation for the Black community. He is showing how it is his decision to assist children and people in need, not the decision of society, and not the decision of pressure.
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Marcus Rashford is an example of true passion in a harboring time. To donate to his charity, visit https://fareshare.org.uk/