Allison Stangeby has been with the Giants for more than two decades. That means she has seen them lift Super Bowl trophies and endure miserable seasons and has watched hundreds of players and coaches come and go.
It also means that during this past month, as in-person football operations ground to a halt and the world beyond the gates of the team’s now shuttered facility dealt with the effects of a pandemic, the team’s vice president of community and corporate relations was able to recall a somewhat similar time early in her tenure with the franchise.
“As soon as everything started to happen, I immediately went back to 9/11,” Stangeby told the team’s website this past week. “Back then, it was such a scary feeling because nobody knew what to do or how to handle anything. We kind of just started doing. I can remember the players asking, ‘What can we do?’ Back then it was time, talent and treasure. That was the big thing that they wanted to offer and they wanted to commit to.”
Back then, players visited firehouses and Ground Zero, donated supplies to first responders and arranged visits with families who had lost loved ones in the terrorist attacks. This time, though, because of social distancing and other regulations aimed at preventing the spread of the coronavirus, the rules of engagement are different. There can be no spirit-lifting visits, no roll-up-your-sleeves pitching in.
But the mission, Stangeby said, is the same now as it was in 2001.
“We went to lockdown and thought, ‘All right, we’re going to need to do something,'" Stangeby said. “And went right back to ‘what can we do?’ The players can do the videos and say ‘Hi, we’re thinking about you’ supporting the first responders, which we did a ton of. But in all honesty, making contributions to our community partners, who we are always working with, was pretty much the only thing that we could do to make a difference.”
With Stangeby at the forefront, the Giants have been helping the community in a number of ways during the past month. One of the first ways they stepped up was through their long-standing relationship with The Meadowlands YMCA. With schools closed, many nurses, doctors, EMTs and other first responders were forced to find child care so they could continue to work their important jobs. The Giants picked up the tab and since late March have been covering the cost for child care for them at the facility.
Stangeby said that at about the same time the franchise was setting that project into action, she started receiving calls and emails from players. Quarterback Daniel Jones was one of the first to say he wanted to help and asked what he could offer. Eventually a number of players came together to contribute financially to the Community Food Bank of New Jersey and the Food Bank for New York City. The players then were eligible to apply for an additional grant through the NFL for up to $5,000.
“The food banks are desperate for everything,” Stangeby said. “Food is definitely a huge issue right now . . . Knowing that the food banks are going to be in desperate need for food and assistance, we made those contributions to the food banks.”
The Giants also realized that, in their facility and at MetLife Stadium, they had some of the equipment that was needed elsewhere. And because they had no players to feed or care for with the offseason program on hold and all other employees working from home, they were able to donate leftovers and not-yet-prepared food to Rock and Wrap it Up; medical gloves and masks to Hackensack Meridian Health; gloves, goggles and ponchos to the office of Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco, and ponchos to New York City for hospital use.
“Whenever we find stuff at our facility or at the stadium, we are able to get it to them,” Stangeby said.
They’ve also made donations to Hackensack University Medical Foundation to provide food for first responders and donated to the Food Bank for New York City, the Community FoodBank of New Jersey, the Center for Food Action, AmeriCares, the N.J. Pandemic Relief Fund and the New York City Police Foundation. That last donation is providing personal protective equipment for police and fire department workers along with security and other workers at hospitals.
“The doctors and nurses are getting all the PPEs, but the security people and other workers at the hospital need them and weren’t getting them,” Stangeby said. “So police were going to get them to the hospitals.”
Beyond the official Giants efforts, Laurie Tisch, sister of Giants chairman Steve Tisch and founder of the Laurie Tisch Illumination Fund, has donated $2 million to New York hospitals and first responders.
“We have had such a long history with New York City police, Port Authority, FDNY, from 9/11 through now,” Stangeby said. “We always just come together with them during these times. I just think it was automatic. We just helped. It wasn’t a question of ‘what do you want to do?’ It’s ‘we are doing something. This is what we have to do.’ There were no options. It wasn’t a question, we’re just doing it. That’s it.”