G Joel Bitonio hosts ‘Home Team Holiday Cheer’ in partnership with Meijer to benefit City of Cleveland Recreation Centers (12.22.20)

For Immediate Release

Dec. 22, 2020



Kids from City of Cleveland Neighborhood Resource & Recreation Centers to receive $125 gift cards, courtesy of Bitonio’s family and Meijer


CLEVELAND, Ohio – Pro Bowl G Joel Bitonio is hosting “Home Team Holiday Cheer,” in partnership with Meijer, to provide all 22 of City of Cleveland Neighborhood Resource & Recreation Centers with a special holiday experience. Through the generosity of Bitonio’s family and Meijer, two kids from each location will receive a $125 gift card to use as they please at Meijer and a Browns-themed gift bag. Additionally, five gaming systems were provided to City of Cleveland Neighborhood Resource & Recreation Centers as part of the event for everyone to enjoy.


Bitonio joined the festivities virtually by recording a holiday message for the children, who will have the opportunity to purchase presents at Meijer soon for themselves, family members and friends.


“We greatly appreciate everything that the City of Cleveland Recreation Centers do for the kids in our home town, and we hope that all of them can enjoy these gifts this holiday season and throughout the year,” said Bitonio. “While Courtney and I will definitely miss shopping with the kids, it was important to us to still find a way bring a smile to their faces and create great memories for them this year. We also thank Meijer for their generosity in helping us make this a special holiday for as many of Cleveland’s kids as possible.”


“We are pleased to partner with the Bitonio family and the Cleveland Browns to support City of Cleveland Recreation Centers,” said Cathy Cooper, Senior Director of Community Partnerships and Giving for Meijer, the Browns’ Official Grocery Supercenter. “We hope these gifts will brighten the holiday seasons of local children and bring them a little extra fun as they play together year-round.”


Media are welcome to repurpose photos of the City of Cleveland Neighborhood Resource & Recreation Centers picking up gifts at FirstEnergy Stadium through “Home Team Holiday Cheer,” courtesy of the Cleveland Browns.


Bitonio, a three-time Pro Bowl selection who has played every offensive snap since the start of the 2017 season, is an active participant in Browns Give Back’s efforts to make a difference in education and youth football, as well as through the team’s First and Ten volunteering movement. He and his wife, Courtney, create an annual holiday shopping event to benefit City of Cleveland Neighborhood Resource & Recreation Centers youth. While the Bitonio family could not join the kids in person this year due to the pandemic, they had a strong desire to ensure many of Cleveland’s youth had a memorable holiday season.


Meijer is highly committed to supporting community efforts, including in its role as the presenting partner of Browns youth football’s HELMETS initiative. This past offseason, Meijer also collaborated with WR Jarvis Landry to help supply hygiene products to East Cleveland City School District students and families in need during the COVID-19 pandemic through the “Stay in the Game! Keep Learning, Every Day!” Network.


About the Cleveland Browns and Browns Give Back:

The Browns Give Back to Northeast Ohio with a commitment to education and youth football while engaging the community through the team’s signature First and Ten volunteer movement. For more information, visit www.clevelandbrowns.com/brownsgiveback.


Education – The Cleveland Browns are dedicated to improving the quality of education for students in Ohio by making investments that keep kids in school every day so they can succeed, highlighted by the “Stay in the Game! Keep Learning, Every Day” Network. The “Stay in the Game!” Network is a statewide initiative designed to promote the importance of school attendance and put an end to chronic absenteeism. The team engages local school districts and promotes quality education by using attendance data and feedback from families to build a school-going culture, uncover and reduce common barriers to attendance and support engagement opportunities for students to thrive. In the 2020-21 school year, the “Stay in the Game!” Network will partner with 14 school districts, benefitting nearly 90,000 students in Ohio. An adaptation of the “Get 2 School, Stay In The Game!” Network, the name change reflects the current environment where schools may not necessarily be able to host in-school learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. No matter the circumstances, the “Stay in the Game!” Network will continue to encourage and support students to maintain a strong educational-going mindset to keep learning, every day, aligned with its overall goal to help end chronic absenteeism and provide all students equal opportunities to be successful. To learn more visit, visit Get2School.org.


Youth Football – The Cleveland Browns are committed to assisting the development, safety and growth of youth and high school football throughout Northeast Ohio with year-round programming for players, coaches, officials and parents. Through camps, clinics and other initiatives, the Browns’ goal is to promote healthy, social, emotional, intellectual and physical development of youth by enhancing opportunities for youth football participation and education.


First and Ten – Launched in June 2014, the Cleveland Browns First and Ten campaign is the team’s community program, established to inspire fans to #give10 and help their communities by volunteering for 10 hours each year. Through First and Ten, the Browns are the only NFL club to promote a long-term volunteering program that unifies the team and its entire fan base, with the goal of impacting every individual’s city across the globe, as well as the franchise’s local community. To date, more than 2.75 million hours of volunteering have been pledged through First and Ten. All Browns fans are encouraged to join the volunteering effort by signing the First and Ten pledge on the team’s website and by sharing their stories with #give10.


About Meijer:

Meijer is a Grand Rapids, Michigan-based retailer that operates 256 supercenters and grocery stores throughout Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky and Wisconsin. A privately-owned and family-operated company since 1934, Meijer pioneered the “one-stop shopping” concept and has evolved through the years to include expanded fresh produce and meat departments, as well as pharmacies, comprehensive apparel departments, pet departments, garden centers, toys and electronics. For additional information on Meijer, visit www.meijer.com. Follow Meijer on Twitter @twitter.com/Meijer and @twitter.com/MeijerPR or become a fan at www.facebook.com/meijer.


About the City of Cleveland:

The City of Cleveland is committed to improving the quality of life for its residents by strengthening neighborhoods, delivering superior services, embracing diversity and making Cleveland a desirable, safe city in which to live, work, play and do business. For more information on the City of Cleveland, visit online at www.clevelandohio.gov, Twitter at @cityofcleveland or Facebook at www.facebook.com/cityofcleveland .


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