This has been the week of giving back by the Miami Dolphins and Marlins in separate community projects.
On Tuesday, all 53 Dolphins players and coach Joe Philbin took part in a project at Barbara Hawkins Elementary School in Miami Gardens.
The Marlins’ Day of Service and Philanthropy was Thursday at Miami Edison Middle School, with the team’s office staff teaming with Sharon Robinson, daughter of Jackie Robinson, on a school makeover.
The Dolphins put muscle and sweat behind their project, planting flowers, laying stones, mulch and painting in the school’s butterfly garden. They also decorated the teachers’ lounge in an effort to create an improved educational environment for the school.
“Whenever I rode the school bus I came right through this area,” said defensive end Olivier Vernon, who grew up in Miami and played for the University of Miami. “It’s a great opportunity to put a smile on these kids’ faces considering I remember being their age and looking up to the Dolphins.
"It’s kind of surreal and it hits you because I’m wearing the uniform now and they’re running up to me asking me for autographs and asking me about Reggie Bush and my other teammates. That’s what I was doing at their age and now I can tell them to follow their dream and stay in the books and study hard.”
Players also split into groups to visit each of the 18 classrooms at the school. They handed out books to every student at the school and read and spoke to 329 children as part of the Miami Dolphins Foundation Most Valuable Reader Program.
“You can’t put a price tag on things like this. It’s a good experience for everybody,” said Philbin. “When I interviewed for the job I told Mr. Ross that we wanted to build a team that had great success on the field and wins championships, but just as important was we wanted to have men that were unselfish and willing to give back to the community and make a difference in people’s lives.”
Thursday, the Marlins donated $80,000 toward a total makeover of Miami Edison Middle. Robinson, along with about 200 members of the Marlins’ staff joined with representatives of Miami Dade County Public Schools, City Year Miami and Teach for America in donating books and reading to students during the event.
The Marlins have donated more than $1.2 million and more than 5,000 community service hours in philanthropic initiatives this year.
Photo: Miami Dolphins players at work on the garden at Barbara Hawkins Elementary School. (courtesy Miami Dolphins)