WWE commentator Jim Ross signs autographs for fans.
The WWE Raw world tour rolled through Salt Lake City this past week, but these wrestling superstars came not only looking to lay the smackdown on their opponents for the show, they were looking at wrestling a bigger foe: hunger.
One in five children in Utah don't know where their next meal will come from.
WWE and the Maverik Center teamed with the Utah Food Bank to raise donations and generate awareness for the needs of the hungry in the community. The day's events featured special donation incentives including a 20 percent off ticket promotion for the evening's live WWE event. A meet and greet was also held with 2007 WWE Hall of Fame commentator Jim Ross.
"I think that it should be every citizens' obligation to give back to their community." Ross says. "Whether you're on TV or in WWE or not, you should help you're community."
Over 100 people lined up in front of the South Salt Lake Maverik store. Some patrons donated canned goods, and all came with an anticipation to meet a sports entertainment legend and help the cause.
The line to meet Jim Ross at South Salt Lake's Maverik.
Clenching a grocery bag full of caned and nonperishable items, Patron Dean Westerfield was among the first in line. "I always try to donate to the food bank," Westerfield says. "I've had to use it in the past; I've had problems, so when I can, I try to help out those who need the food that can't get the food for themselves."
With increased demand and dwindled donations, the summer months prove to be particularly challenging for the Utah Food Bank. "Many children who receive a free breakfast and a free lunch during the traditional school year are now out of school and families who have these children at home have to provide those two meals in addition to what they normally would feed those kids," says Ginette Bott, who works for the Utah Food Bank. "They're then coming to our pantry, so the demand for inventory for us for that 90 days is the highest during any time of the year."
Of the partnership with WWE, Bott says "We are always so thrilled when we have any opportunity to partner with organizations that allow us to promote awareness and education of hunger in Utah."