BY DENNIS D. CRUZ
The Oakland Raiders have always carried a certain image in the National Football League. Intimidating, tough, win at all cost, with no regard for their opponents. Hard to believe that in the fall of 1999, a group of Raider fans collaborated with the historic franchise and formed the charitable group The Knights of the Shield in Fresno. Since then, they have expanded to five chapters in several areas of California; those covered by area codes 559, 714, 707, 310 and most recently the 209.
Endy Rivas, who was an original member of the Fresno (559) organization, was handpicked to become the president of the proposed 209 chapter in 2014.
“Our goal was to bring the booster club to the 209 area. In November of 2014 we were up and running. We currently have over 260 members in our club,” said Rivas.
In just 10 months the Knights of the Shield 209 Chapter has hit the pavement hard, making a difference in the 209 area, from Lodi to Merced. Unlike the NFL team’s image, the chapter has shown compassion toward those less fortunate in the area. Rivas and the rest of the club have rolled up their sleeves and gone to work trying to make the community better and helping those who have hit a rough patch in their lives.
“We are Raider fans and love our team, but we love our community more. This is where live and we all have to do our part to lend a hand,” said Rivas.
The Chapter has participated in several charitable acts during their inaugural year. This past August, the Knights helped out 70 kids from the Dad’s House Education and Group Center of Modesto with needed supplies for back to school. The Dad’s House Education and Group Center is an organization that helps single dads and their kids get back on their feet. The Knights teamed up with Dad’s and put together a backpack drive for kids in the center. The chapter also teamed up with Ruben’s Barbershop of Modesto and gave kids back-to-school haircuts free of charge.
“These kids and parents needed help. When we heard about kids not having backpacks or haircuts for school, we knew we had to help out,” said Rivas.
The Knights also teamed up with Delta Blood Bank locations in the area and put together blood drives for those in need. From Sept. 17 through Oct. 3 the Knights and Delta Blood Bank hosted a replacement blood drive for 2-year-old Michelle Marques, who was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. The drive was held in Turlock, Modesto, Stockton and Manteca.
During the holiday season of 2014, Knights of the Shield 209 Chapter put together turkey, toy and clothing drives throughout the 209 to help those less fortunate and needing a helping hand to get through the holidays.
“We were able to help out numerous families and individuals during the winter. We plan on doing that again in the upcoming months. It’s just something we are all passionate about,” said Rivas.
With the recent wildfires in this region, the Knights organized a drive that included essentials for those who were forced to evacuate. They also volunteered to offer services for cleanup, repairs and anything else that may be needed to help in recovery efforts.
For more information on Knights of the Shield Chapter 209, log on to their Facebook page, keyword Knights of the Shield.