MANKATO, Minn. –Each time Eric Kendricks and his Vikings teammates sack a quarterback this season, they'll also be sacking childhood hunger.
Kendricks is teaming up with The Sheridan Story and RBA to launch "Sacks for Kids," a campaign to raise money for local weekend food programs.
"I always wanted to give back to kids," Kendricks said. "There were times for me growing up where I needed help, and I was given that help. The more I can do now to give back, the better."
When Kendricks chose a charity to partner with, Sacks for Kids was an easy choice.
"It's interactive. As we play, as we get sacks, it benefits Sacks for Kids," Kendricks said. "It's a team thing, and it gets the fans involved. It includes everybody."
Throughout the 2016 season, Kendricks is asking Vikings fans to pledge at least $1 for every sack the Vikings record. All proceeds from the linebacker's Sacks for Kids campaign will benefit The Sheridan Story. The program partners with local schools to provide food on the weekends, when students are unable to benefit from free and reduced meal programs at school.
"We are thrilled to have Eric Kendricks partner with The Sheridan Story to fight child hunger this season," said Rob Williams, Executive Director of The Sheridan Story. "His support will be a huge help as we work with the community to get food to kids right here in Minnesota."
The Sheridan Story works in more than 100 schools throughout the Twin Cities to provide the tools, resources and expertise necessary to make an effective and significant impact on child hunger. Each school week, the program provides more than 4,000 children with a weekend supply of substantive, nutritious food.
Interacting with youth and influencing them is important to Kendricks, who recently spent time joking around and posing for photos with a group of students from the YMCA who visited a training camp practice.
"They love football," Kendricks said. "You can just feel them looking up to you, and you can make a difference to them by just saying something small. I just like seeing smiling faces, and anytime you have positive energy, I'm right there with the positive energy to match."
As a rookie in 2015, Kendricks recorded 4.0 sacks, tying the second-highest total in franchise history by a rookie linebacker. As a team, the Vikings finished with 43 sacks on the season. Kendricks said he and his defensive teammates hope to raise significant funds for The Sheridan Story in 2016.
"We're going to focus on the season, but I think it should take care of itself," Kendricks said. "We have some guys that are pretty nasty up front."
Kendricks said he plans to continue being active in his hometown of Fresno, California, but he's grateful for the opportunity to leave a lasting impact in the community that supports him on the field each and every day.
"I wanted to focus on [the Twin Cities]," Kendricks said. "Right now where I can, it's great to help Minnesota and the City of Minneapolis. It's going to be a good ride."
Individuals who make at least a $1 per sack commitment or a flat donation of $40 or more will be entered to win a signed helmet, and those who make a pledge of $10 or more or a flat donation of at least $400 will receive a special invitation for two to Eric Kendricks' Champions Reception on Monday, Sept. 26, at the Wayzata Brew Works.