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Brandon Copeland, other NFL players, surprise families with $800 Amazon gift cards

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New England Patriots' Brandon Copeland on his nonprofit that helps underserved families and children

It's the season of giving — and New England Patriots linebacker Brandon Copeland is doing his part.

This holiday season, he got together with 19 other current and former NFL players to surprise 200 underserved families each with $800 Amazon gift cards. The total giveaway: $160,000.

The players are "guys who we are literally competing against every Sunday, Monday, and Thursday — sometimes Tuesday — in these Covid games," Copeland said in an interview on CNBC's Halftime Report Thursday.

"We are trying to give back and put smiles on people's faces to end this unprecedented year."

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Copeland, who was sidelined with an injury this season, is no stranger to giving back. His non-profit organization, Beyond the Basics, hosts a youth football camp and other events for those in need. It is also donated funds to help get food on the table during the pandemic.

Last year, Copeland took more than 300 underprivileged children on a holiday shopping spree. This year, he had to adjust for Covid. The event, a partnership with Amazon, The NFL Foundation and Zebra Technologies, went all virtual.

"In the virtual space, you feel like you lose a bit of connection, but we were actually able to get to know the families that we were working with this year more than we were were in the past," said Copeland, who has been named one of CNBC + Acorn's Homegrown Heroes. He is also a member of the CNBC Invest in You Financial Wellness Council.

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - SEPTEMBER 20: Brandon Copeland #52 of the New England Patriots looks on before their game against the Seattle Seahawks.
Abbie Parr | Getty Images Sport | Getty Images

"[We] really got to find out what this means to each of the families and get to know their stories," he said.

Copeland, who was also recently named to the Forbes 30 under 30 sports list, was nominated to be a Homegrown Hero by former NFL player Joel Gamble, who also has a nonprofit foundation that focuses helping underserved student athletes. Gamble has taken part in Copeland's holiday shopping sprees for the past two years.

"In the Baltimore city community, we were able to bless several families affected by Covid-19 directly, as well as displaced families in shelters," Gamble said.

We are trying to give back and put smiles on people's faces to end this unprecedented year.
Brandon Copeland
NFL linebacker

"The overwhelming joy it brought to see families' excitement and emotions of tears ... was unbelievable," he said. "I am so extremely proud of Brandon."

Copeland, who said the recovery from his injury is going great and is well ahead of schedule, also spends his time helping others learn about money.

He teaches a Life 101 course at the University of Pennsylvania and recently teamed up with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to shed light on some of the available resources available during the pandemic.

"It is never too late and never too early to start planning, start saving, start figuring out how you can take your current environment and how you can build it forward, " Copeland has said.

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