EAGAN, Minn. – When three Vikings players walked down the steps and onto the field at TCO Stadium, one young fan couldn't contain his excitement.
Logan, wearing a purple Dalvin Cook jersey, jumped up and waved at Danielle Hunter, Eric Kendricks and Justin Jefferson.
"I love the Vikings. I love them!" he yelled.
Logan is one of more than 60 young people currently residing at People Serving People, Minneapolis' largest and most comprehensive emergency shelter for families experiencing homelessness. He and 45 of the other youth visited Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center Tuesday afternoon for a surprise back-to-school event hosted by the Vikings and SCHEELS.
The Vikings Table food truck also was on-site to provide nutritious meals for all attendees.
Hunter, Kendricks and Jefferson helped hand out individual bags from SCHEELS, each including a new outfit (shirt and pants), underwear, socks, shoes and a light jacket.
"I'm Logan, and I love this," the youngster told Kendricks as he received his bag, fearlessly chattering away with the All-Pro linebacker.
"He was juiced to be here. He was doing spins – he was just excited," Kendricks laughed, demonstrating a quick twirl. " 'We're out here on the field!' This is what it's all about. Being a kid, embracing it."
Haley Wireman-Sobba works as People Serving People's Educational Services Coordinator, through which she has the opportunity to help academically support children ages 4-18.
"It makes us feel warm and fuzzy [to be here]. Everything's about the kids, everything we do, so it's great that the Vikings can help us … make their lives so much better and give them the best back-to-school day we can give them," Wiremann-Sobba said.
"We tried to keep it a secret, tried to make it the best day we could for the kids. But of course [people] found out what we were doing," she added with a chuckle.
Vikings LB Eric Kendricks, WR Justin Jefferson and DE Danielle Hunter surprised youth currently residing at People Serving People with a back-to-school event hosted by the Vikings and SCHEELS.
SCHEELS Marketing & Events Lead Austin Link called it an easy decision to team up with the Vikings for such a unique and impactful event.
"SCHEELS prides itself on being big in the community," Link said. "[The Vikings] reached out and said, 'Hey, we have this opportunity coming up with People Serving People,' and it was something that we jumped on right away, knowing how big of an impact it could make.
"Being out here today … that's what it's all about. That's what you come to work for every day," Link added.
Jefferson told the group he was honored to spend time with them, and it was evident the second-year receiver thoroughly enjoyed handing out school supplies – just a few short hours before hosting his own back-to-school event in North Minneapolis.
"I just wanted to give back and wanted to see all of these kids light up with smiles and just enjoy going back to school," Jefferson said.
Hunter, who missed all of last season with a neck injury but is ready and raring to go on game days, also is thankful to be back in the community.
"It means a lot just to come out and contribute my time, to be able to give kids items that they need for school and to be able to put smiles on their faces," Hunter said.
He emphasized the significance of providing new clothing for young people starting a new school year.
"I feel like it brings a lot of confidence to them because they have the supplies they need in order to succeed," Hunter said. "They just need to apply themselves and focus in school, and then everything will pan out in the end for them."
One young lady is especially eager to return to school, reunite with friends and meet new classmates.
Nylashia, 11, especially enjoys science and aspires to one day be a scientist — but also a photographer, she noted.
"I think today is great because I didn't even know we were coming, and it's my first time here," said Nylashia, glancing around the field.
"Something that we work on at the shelter is making sure kids are ready and focused to go back to school," Wireman-Sobba said. "A lot of my kids [last year] when we were in distance learning, they didn't want to go back to school, and they were so anxiety-ridden. So I thought, 'What can we do as an organization to get them … to want to go to school?' So that's how this project came to be."
The joy of the staff members, youth and Vikings players couldn't be missed.
"It feels good. I feel like this is what it's supposed to be," Kendricks said. "Obviously things are a little different, but we're adjusting, and it feels good."