by Troy Landrum Jr.
“I don’t ever need to have the ability to assist, and never assist.” These phrases from Cortez Charles signify the inspiration and the mission of the eighth Annual Turkey Bowl Week.
This historic neighborhood occasion has taken place within the South Finish yearly for the previous eight years, even through the pandemic, when the soccer sport needed to be canceled and neighborhood service turned the main focus. Charles’ group, the Fatherhood Accountability Motion (FAM), has introduced pleasure, meals, sports activities, and neighborhood service to the South Finish through the Thanksgiving Vacation — a vacation that represents meals and togetherness for a lot of, however may also signify a time of problem for some of us. His dedication to service shaped a neighborhood motion that got here from a weak time in his life, or “a pivotal time,” as he stated.
Charles is aware of what it means to battle. He is aware of what it means to crave extra from life within the midst of hardship. “I used to be homeless,” he stated. “And on the finish of 2014, I used to be sitting in my automotive … And my children are asleep, and I hear God inform me to belief the method. I used to be sitting outdoors, ready in entrance of the City League for some help. Via that point interval, it simply hit my coronary heart: I simply wish to serve folks. It was birthed at one in every of my lowest moments in life.”
The Turkey Bowl began in Louisiana in 1959, as a household custom, by Charles E. Sampson. “Uncle Charles,” as his household affectionately calls him, migrated to Seattle through the Nice Migration, when Black of us left the Southern states in nice numbers to seek out security and higher alternatives. It was vital for him to convey his household’s Thanksgiving custom — a convention rooted in retaining household and the neighborhood collectively. Uncle Charles and his household would arrange a area people soccer sport each Thanksgiving and have of us convey canned items to serve the individuals who have been in want through the vacation.
In Seattle, the custom grew and remodeled, lasting for nearly 20 years, from roughly 1977 to 1995. Throughout that point, many neighborhood members made the occasion part of their household custom as nicely, together with cops, Metropolis Councilmembers, and retired NFL gamers. They’d maintain their video games on the Rainier Playfield yearly — however after virtually 20 years of bringing such influence to the neighborhood, The Turkey Bowl light. Uncle Charles was getting older and the neighborhood who participated in all of it these years had began to age as nicely. If the occasion have been to soar on new wings, it wanted the younger of us to breathe new life into it. Cortez Charles turned that breath of contemporary air.
It was the primary week of November in 2015 when Charles felt a nudge to convey again his household’s custom. He was working for City Household, a company targeted on serving the younger folks of The Crescent Pointe residences in Skyway. It was a few weeks earlier than Thanksgiving, and he felt the necessity to make the most of the impactful occasion that he grew up with to convey collectively the younger folks that he was serving. But when he was going to conjure up such a particular previous, he needed to do it proper and he needed to do it his manner. Charles then known as up his Uncle Charles and obtained the blessing to revive The Turkey Bowl.
Charles’ new focus can be to create a flag soccer sport for youth and provides them a particular probability to serve these in want via a service day. This service day coined the phrase that his volunteers and group dwell by, “Educating youth and younger adults what it seems wish to serve any person apart from themselves.”
Just like the custom that Uncle Charles created so a few years in the past, The Turkey Bowl has remodeled and grown into an occasion that’s protected and held by the neighborhood. Its new iteration is now eight years robust, residing via a pandemic and remodeling adults and younger folks because it has expanded to completely different communities in Washington. The Turkey Bowl has grown into Turkey Bowl week, the place younger folks volunteer in every week of service to folks in want, take part in The Turkey Bowl’s conventional neighborhood dinner, and play within the extremely touted soccer sport on the closing of the week.
This 12 months’s Turkey Bowl week consists of service on the Tacoma Rescue Mission and the Rainier Valley Meals Financial institution. Will probably be an opportunity for the neighborhood to develop its attain to Tacoma and proceed to meet its mission of serving these inside its personal yard. This 12 months additionally welcomes one other model new presentation — NBA All-Star and Rainier Seashore Excessive Faculty alumni Dejounte Murray can be donating 200 free turkeys on the neighborhood dinner. It’s a stunning instance of the celebrities of the area people by no means forgetting the place they arrive from and including a taste of magic to such a powerful occasion and custom.
Each Thanksgiving morning, waking up and heading to the sector, it doesn’t matter what that 12 months’s climate introduced, and watching his household have fun sooner or later out of the 12 months via soccer, meals, and repair — that’s what Charles’ childhood reminiscences include. These reminiscences will now be handed right down to his children and all of the younger folks that his volunteers and his group have served and can proceed to serve.
Charles has been a neighborhood chief and information for the South Finish for a very long time; he has utilized his private experiences to leverage his core skill to remodel a neighborhood’s life.
Simply because the sentence “It’s greater than a sport” sits completely and proudly stamped on numerous posters, flyers, and banners all through the Turkey Bowl week, Charles’ redefining private second “I don’t ever need to have the ability to assist, and never assist” is stamped on the neighborhood’s coronary heart. The Turkey Bowl custom is greater than a sport; it’s a motion that may without end be a South Finish present to all.
Cortez Charles want to thank all the oldsters who’ve helped preserve this custom alive. A few of these of us are: the founding father of The Turkey Bowl, Charles E. Sampson; the household of the inheritor of the founding father, Cortez Charles; Rainier Seashore Excessive Faculty head soccer coach Cory; Renton Excessive Faculty soccer coach Cros; Belief the Course of Group; Seattle Parks and Recreation; Durrell Inexperienced; and the numerous volunteers and staff of the Fatherhood Accountability Motion.
Troy Landrum Jr. was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, and is at the moment a program producer for KUOW’s “Radioactive” program. He has spent the previous few years as a bookseller at Third Place Books in Seward Park and not too long ago graduated with a grasp’s in advantageous arts on the College of Washington, Bothell. Comply with Troy on Twitter at @TroyLandrumJr.
📸 Featured Picture: (Picture courtesy of Cortez Charles.)
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