Vodafone Warriors football staff and players were on cooking and serving duties at Lifewise Merge Café on Karangahape Road in Auckland today.
Head coach Andrew McFadden, captain Ryan Hoffman and the rest of the staff and players visited the café to not only serve some of Auckland’s homeless people but also to hand out jerseys and other apparel to them.
Merge’s goal is to end homelessness in Auckland and it says every dollar spent at the café goes towards housing homeless people.
“We had a really disappointing end to the season and it didn’t feel right to close it off that way,” said Vodafone Warriors managing director Jim Doyle.
“We had a chat about it and decided we’d like to try to do something positive for people in need so going to Merge was a really nice thing to do.”
Hoffman said the players appreciated the chance to mix with customers and help out in the café.
“While the season was disappointing in the end the Auckland community has been great to us all year as it always is,” he said.
“This was our chance to give back to the community on a positive note.”
The Vodafone Warriors arrived at Merge carrying boxes of apparel and footwear to give out to those in need.
Inside the café, Manu Vatuvei’s laughter rang out as he, Hoffman, Ben Henry, Ben Matulino, Ruben Wiki and Simon Mannering were among those serving customers at the counter.
In the kitchen Albert Vete, Charlie Gubb, Ali Lauitiiti were on duty. At the tables Thomas Leuluai led the way chatting with customers.
In the courtyard at the rear of the café Jacob Lillyman and David Fusitu’a manned the barbecue while Blake Ayshford, Issac Luke, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Tuimoala Lolohea and Sam Lisone prepared food.
The Vodafone Warriors hold their 22nd annual awards dinner in Auckland tomorrow night.