Harrison Phillips simply "wanted to get involved" during the difficult times brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
The Buffalo Bills defensive tackle came up with a solution: donating 650 meals to staff at Buffalo General Medical Center and Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital Wednesday night. Phillips discovered that other donations to date had mainly been lunches, so he decided to send along dinners from Rachel's Mediterranean Grill and Ilio DiPaolo's.
Buffalo General and Millard Suburban have been directly caring for nearly all of the Covid-19 patients in the Kaleida Health system, a Kaleida spokesperson said.
Phillips estimates that, since joining the Bills in 2017, he has made nearly 100 goodwill visits to patients at Western New York hospitals. In the process, he said he has gotten to know staff members and communicates with them regularly. Since the coronavirus pandemic became a life-changing force last March, Phillips' appreciation has only grown for doctors and nurses, including his aunt in his native Omaha, Neb., on the front line.
"I hear a lot of the horror stories from her," Phillips said in an interview via Zoom. "I know doctors and nurses (in WNY) personally and can see their social media (posts) or reach out and text some of them. And I know that they're going into the thick of it, so I definitely am very much appreciative of what they're doing.
"I love donating my time, but, obviously, I can't be there. This was a place where I knew I needed to give a financial donation of some sort."
Phillips said he's making similar meal donations to hospitals in Omaha.
Of the 650 meals donated in WNY, Phillips said 50 came through his involvement with special needs children through his nonprofit program called Playmakers. He reached out to parents of participants to have the kids do household chores, with Phillips putting $10 for each toward the hospital meals donations. He had the parents send photos and videos to him of his "Playmaker pups" doing their chores.
"The idea was to flip the perception that these kids are so dependent and they need help, those bad perceptions people have, and flip it and have them giving back and them serving," Phillips said. "So far, we've received over 50 videos and photos of our Playmaker kids in Buffalo mowing the lawn, cleaning dishes, painting, taking the dog for a walk, folding laundry, all these different things."