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Bengals honored for work in community

The Bengals were honored recently for their service to two long-time Greater Cincinnati organizations, Working in Neighborhoods (WIN) and The Salvation Army.

Bengals executive vice president Katie Blackburn has been involved since WIN's inception in the mid-1980s in the organization's effort to put families in their first houses or keep them in their homes through rehabilitation or preservation. The Bengals were recognized in the category of 20 years or more corporate partners.

"Katie has been very helpful with ideas and chaired some groups for us," said WIN's Sister Barbara Busch. "Her primary interest has been trying to find ways to educate first-time home buyers. We're grateful for their financial support as well as the time Katie has spent with us."

Blackburn, as well as her family, has also contributed down through the years to The Salvation Army and the organization bestowed on the Bengals last week the "Others Award" for 2013, which honors "an individual or organization exemplifying an extraordinary spirit of service to others." Consideration for the award is given to those who have exhibited extraordinary service on behalf of others and exceptional service to The Salvation Army and the broader community.  

Each Christmas, the Bengals provide The Salvation Army the opportunity to place kettles around Paul Brown Stadium at a home game for their holiday campaign.

But during the award presentation The Salvation Army observed the Bengals contribute all year round, from sponsoring a table at its luncheon each year, to in-kind donations that have been requested for other fundraising events, to providing autographed merchandise that has great appeal as auction items. Plus, mascot Who Dey and members of the Ben-Gals cheerleading squad appear at the Fountain Square kettle kickoff and the annual Donut Day festivities in the spring. The club also sponsors a kettle in front of an area Kroger during the Christmas season.

"Not limiting their efforts to The Salvation Army, the Bengals have been consistent and diligent in their support of the community," said Carol Williams, MC of the event who made the presentation to Blackburn and the Bengals.

"Between direct corporate contributions, NFL Charities, and other efforts in concert with their business partners, the Bengals generate more than $1 million each year for community groups. Other local beneficiaries of the Bengals' generosity include the Marines Toys for Tots campaign, the Freestore Foodbank, Hoxworth Blood Center and efforts to promote Breast Cancer Awareness."

Williams also noted the involvement of the Brown family in such events as The Salvation Army Toy Shop Auxiliary. Nancy Brown, Blackburn's mother, has been one of the driving forces behind the Auxiliary since 1985.

"Nancy has devoted innumerable hours and made countless contributions to the work of the Toy Shop Auxiliary, helping tirelessly with the Auxiliary's annual fundraiser," Williams said. "She also volunteers at the annual Toy Shop event, when local parents select for their children dolls and books, which have been donated by the Auxiliary through the hard work and dedication of its members.

"Katie has also been active in support of The Salvation Army, particularly of her mother's work with the Toy Shop Auxiliary. Katie joined the ranks of the Toy Shop Auxiliary in 1990. She has worked on many special Salvation Army projects with her mother over the years, ensuring the success of the Auxiliary's fundraising efforts year-after-year. And over the years, Katie's daughters, Caroline and Elizabeth, have also lent a hand in the efforts to support the work of the Toy Shop Auxiliary. The Browns' support of The Salvation Army is truly multi-generation."

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