EAGAN, Minn. – The Vikings are responding to a Twin Cities tragedy and encouraging fans to join them in the effort.
Around 3 a.m. Christmas morning, fire crews were called to combat a four-alarm fire that had broken out at Francis Drake Hotel in downtown Minneapolis.
The one-time luxury hotel that was built in 1926 with 146 rooms had been converted to temporary/transitional housing. Three people were hurt in the blaze, while more than 200 were left without a home.
Metro Transit dispatched buses to provide temporary shelter from the cold for those displaced, and the American Red Cross provided food and drinks for residents. Additionally, there was an outpouring of support and donations of clothing and resources made by the Twin Cities community.
The outpouring of donations was so great that the Red Cross has asked people who want to help to focus on monetary donations.
The Vikings are looking to further support those individuals who have been displaced.
As part of a charge led by tight end Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota's locker room has chipped in to donate $25,000. The Vikings organization and ownership group is matching that amount to bring the total to $50,000.
"For me, Christmas is a time where you're supposed to be spending time with family. Really, the whole holiday season – it's all about spreading Christmas cheer and doing things for other people," Rudolph said. "When you hear news of a tragedy like this that displaces 250 people, and their lives are turned upside down, they don't know where to go for help, it makes you feel like you need to do something – you need to step up; you need to help these people.
"I think it just shows the type of character that this organization has in helping these people in a time of need," added Rudolph, who is the Vikings 2019 nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award.
Vikings safety Anthony Harris personally contributed to the cause and encouraged followers via Instagram to consider contributing, as well.
"I think it's important for us to use our influence in a positive way and help lift each other up when we are down or need help," Harris told Vikings.com.
Vikings Table, the charity food truck initiative of the Minnesota Vikings Foundation, is providing a free meal for the displaced this evening.
Those who would like to join the continued efforts and make a monetary contribution can donate to the Minnesota Red Cross at redcross.org/mn or to the Minneapolis Foundation by texting DRAKEFIRE to 243725.