ROSEVILLE, Minn. – We may be six months away from the 2021 NFL season, but Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer is looking for victory of a different variety in March.
Through the Mike Zimmer Foundation, he donated 10,000 cans of food to The Salvation Army to kick off the nonprofit's food drive. This particular campaign has set a lofty goal of collecting 2 million pounds of food by March 27.
The benchmark may be grand, but Zimmer believes it's quite attainable with the help of hardy Vikings fans.
"Let's get it going. We've got to help these people!" Zimmer exclaimed. "Everybody bring some canned foods, and we'll get that goal, easy."
The head coach was on-hand Wednesday at The Salvation Army Division Headquarters. Equipped with a mask – fabric emblazoned with a white-tail deer, woodsy scene – and plenty of enthusiasm, Zimmer helped unload the food from mammoth, zero-emissions cargo fans provided by the Pritchard Companies.
Head Coach Mike Zimmer donated 10,000 cans of food to The Salvation Army.
"The Pritchards are really good friends of mine," Zimmer explained, "and they contacted us about wanting to get together in the community and help in some different ways, like with The Salvation Army in the food drive and raising awareness for the electric vehicles and the sustainability for tomorrow, for our kids."
Wednesday's food donation was part of the Pritchards' Purpose-Built Tour to raise awareness for the charging infrastructure necessary for electric vehicles while simultaneously focusing on the "infrastructure for humanity," as well.
"[We're] giving back to the pillars of our community that really make a difference," Ryan Pritchard said. "So when we have these vehicles that are committed to a sustainable future, we can protect that youth today so they can protect that future tomorrow.
"I'm kind of the oddball kid that, 'All of a sudden electrification is cool!' " he quipped. "It's been a joy putting this stuff together … we really believe in the future, we believe in the youth and we believe in Minneapolis. No better organizations than what we're looking at right here to get that done."
Lt. Col. Dan Jennings, Divisional Commander of The Salvation Army, emphasized the increased need in the community nearly 12 months into the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Jennings, the number of individuals visiting The Salvation Army food pantries across the Twin Cities is up 140 percent from years past.
"Typically, a food pantry might see 20 families come in during a week, and now we're seeing about 150 families come into some of the locations," Jennings said. "So you multiply that by some of the various locations … that's thousands of people that are in need of food."
He encouraged anyone who's able to donate non-perishable food items at drop-centers around the metro to help The Salvation Army reach its goal.
"Bring one can of green beans, if you want. Every single can helps," Jennings encouraged. "Go to your pantry, find out what you can give, stop at your local grocery story and pick up some food, and help some of your neighbors who are in need."
The Mike Zimmer Foundation has an extensive partnership with The Salvation Army, having previously collaborated to donate back-to-school supplies or essential goods during the holidays.
"[The Salvation Army is] dear to our heart with the way they want to help people," Zimmer said. "It's been really important for us with the foundation."
Jennings emphasized that this food drive is the "without a doubt" the largest the nonprofit has ever attempted to tackle – but the organization isn't deterred.
"We're optimistic that this community can do it and people are going to get behind it," Jennings said. "And certainly with the help of the Zimmer Foundation and the Vikings [getting] the word out, it'll motivate people to be a part of this. So we think we're going to achieve victory here."
Children's Minnesota also receives delivery
Prior to the delivery at The Salvation Army, Zimmer and Pritchard Companies also arranged to make a delivery of toys, games and snacks to Children's Minnesota in Minneapolis.
The welcome surprise for patients and families continues the support that the Mike Zimmer Foundation has shown for Children's Minnesota.