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'It's a tremendous blessing': Entire roster served the Atlanta community in the Falcons 16th annual Hometown Huddle

Georgia natives joined together at a homeless shelter to prepare and serve meals 

ATLANTA — Inside the kitchen of a downtown Atlanta homeless shelter, the Georgia natives on the Falcons roster helped prepare and serve meals to unhoused people.

Picture the urgency and fervor of a two-minute drill but with an assembly line making burritos and nachos instead of getting down the field to score.

As the self-proclaimed "quarterback" and "shift leader," Bud Dupree called out orders and directed teammates in the kitchen. The linebacker is familiar with the fast-paced scene of food service. He owns a restaurant in his hometown of Macon, VIBEZ, in part to help provide jobs and financial stability to his community.

"It's always been personal for me to spread my resources," Dupree said, "because I remember not having many resources growing up at all."

This was just one branch of the Falcons community service effort on Oct. 25. In the team's 16th annual Hometown Huddle presented by Cigna, every player volunteered at facilities like Crossroads Community Ministries, at schools and hospitals in 20 different locations. Even Freddie Falcon got in on the action giving out food with Meals on Wheels.

"Giving back, it's at the heart of what we do," Falcons president Greg Beadles said. "...It's cool when all these guys who have deep roots here in the state (help in the community). It feels a little bit like our brothers and sisters here in a sense."

Atlanta Falcons safety Micah Abernathy #29, cornerback Dee Alford #20  outside linebacker Bud Dupree #48, and president Greg Beadles at Crossroads Community Ministries for Hometown Huddle in Atlanta, Georgia, on Tuesday, October 24, 2023. (Photo by Shanna Lockwood/Atlanta Falcons)

It was also the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic that the every Falcons player was able to simultaneously volunteer out in the community. That manifested in an extra liveliness amongst teammates.

While assembling the meals players joked around; Dupree and Dee Alford even had a burrito wrapping contest. Dupree said he had to let his teammate know he was the king of that atmosphere, referencing his victory.

Just outside the mayhem of the kitchen, A.J. Terrell and others took orders. Terrell went to Westlake High School less than 20 miles west of the shelter. He felt an extra motivation to chat with folks and take photos when asked.

"It's definitely a duty on my part," Terrell said. "Being a kid here in the city, and then now just having a platform where your community is happy to see you help support the city. It's a big thing to feel the energy."

Atlanta Falcons cornerback A.J. Terrell #24 at Crossroads Community Ministries for Hometown Huddle in Atlanta, Georgia, on Tuesday, October 24, 2023. (Photo by Shanna Lockwood/Atlanta Falcons)

Both Terrell and Dupree echoed the responsibility they feel to serve the community after reaching new heights of privilege as NFL players. 

"We are so blessed and elite with our profession and what we do," Terrell said. "Sometimes (you) overlook where you come from or how blessed you are to be in a position to give back."

In moments like these, Dupree likes to take a step back, be in the moment and express gratitude. 

"It just puts you in a different mind space when you just really got to think back and connect and take a step back," Dupree said. "This was the dream for all of us growing up, we're blessed to be here in this moment."

For the 16th consecutive year, the entire Atlanta Falcons roster of players participated in a day of community service presented by Cigna. This year, the players split up into eight different locations across Atlanta to serve the community in different ways. Locations included multiple elementary schools, several Children's Healthcare of Atlanta locations, and some local shelters and community ministries.

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