With the weather cooling down and the Thanksgiving leftover supply dwindling, there’s only one thing left to complete the holiday season—Salvation Army bell ringers. Most of us know the familiar jingle that welcomes us into December when we’re walking by our local places of business. Every now and then we’re generous enough to throw in a couple coins, glad to accomplish a good deed and help those in need. Who doesn’t like that feeling? There’s one athlete who especially loves it. Ezekiel Elliott.
On December 18, 2016, Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott cannonballed into the oversized, iconic red kettle after a touchdown. The move reportedly led to more than $800,000 in donations the following week. Elliott said “he was hoping to show a little love” to the charity with the celebration.
Fast forward to last week after Elliott scored a touchdown and looked primed for a repeat of the 2016 cannonball. He approached a cameraman who handed him $21, indicative of his jersey number, which he proceeded to drop into the huge red kettle. Elliott decided to avoid the potential touchdown celebration fine while still showing support for his favorite organization. In the spirit of keeping the tradition alive, Elliott and the Dallas Cowboys are now matching all $21 donations from NFL fans up to $42,000.
Elliott’s efforts extend off the field as well. Every year, Elliott and the Cowboys head to two Salvation Army facilities in the Dallas-Fort Worth area to serve 100s of meals and provide gifts to those in need. This annual tradition, most recently hosted by the Cowboys on November 13, may not have started with Elliott, but he is certainly doing his best to take Salvation Army contributions to the next level.
The huge Salvation Army red kettle isn’t going anywhere for the remainder of the holiday season, so keep an eye out for Elliott’s next move. While it is hard to quantify the monetary value of the exposure he continues to bring the organization through his touchdown celebrations, he has undeniably reinvigorated people’s excitement about hearing that bell ring every time they head out to shop.