Two Clarksdale High School graduates who have made it in the NFL continue to give back to their hometown.
Elgton Jenkins, an offensive guard for the Green Bay Packers, and Juantavius “JT” Gray, a safety for the New Orleans Saints, both graduated from Clarksdale High School in 2014.
They continued their football careers at Mississippi State together.
Now, they are both succeeding in the NFL as the Saints are currently 8-2 on the season, while the Packers are 7-3. Both teams are in first place in their divisions.
While Jenkins and Gray could not be physically present as they played football games Sunday afternoon, they spearheaded an effort where 300 turkeys were given away at the Clarksdale Civic Auditorium. It was a drive-through to keep everyone safe due to the COVID pandemic.
The turkey’s came from Piggly Wiggly in Tunica and Pete’s Grill in Clarksdale was also a sponsor that helped make it happen.
“We spoke with the meat manager in Tunica, Miss. at Piggly Wiggly,” said Jenkins’ mother, Delandra Jenkins. “Elgton Jenkins and JT Gray cash apped their mother.”
Delandra is also Gray’s Godmother.
It was raining Sunday afternoon, but that did not stop the line from going all the way around the block to the Clarksdale Public Utilities building.
“It means everything to me and I appreciate everyone for coming out,” Delandra Jenkins said.
Elgton Jenkins made a brief appearance by phone as he was getting ready for the Packers’ game on the road against the Indianapolis Colts.
The Packers lost 34-31 on overtime, while the Saints defeated the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.
Delandra talked about how much Clarksdale still means to Elgton Jenkins and Gray.
“This is where they were born and raised and they wanted to give back,” she said.
It was especially important to them to give back during the year of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“All families were not able to afford things for Thanksgiving and we wanted to reach out to those who couldn’t and we’re doing the drive-by because we’re trying to make sure everybody stays safe,” Delandra Jenkins said.
She planned for the event to last a couple of hours, so she could get home to watch her son’s game.
“They need to come on because we have a line now,” said Delandra just after noon on Sunday.
Delandra talked about the longtime relationship between her son and Godson.
“Hopefully, they’re prepared for the game today,” she said. “Elgton and JT played together in peewee league, so they’ve been friends for a long time. We’ve been family for a long time. They played ball at Clarksdale High, Higgins, Mississippi State and now they’re in the NFL.
“I’m very happy. I’m very blessed they’re doing something positive for Clarksdale.”
Delandra wore Elgton’s No. 74 jersey with the Packers to the turkey giveaway.
While No. 74 has become synonymous with Elgton, it was not always that way.
“To be honest, when he first got that number, he didn’t want it,” she said. “He wasn’t happy at all, but it grew on him. It grew on us.”