When it comes to Christmas, Las Vegas Raiders linebacker, James Onwualu hasn’t forgotten his St. Paul roots. The Cretin-Derham Hall graduate recently worked with the foundation Beyond The Basics, Inc. and others who surprised four local families with up to $800 in Amazon gift cards to help navigate the global pandemic during the holiday season.

“I hope this gift can take some of the pressure off of these parents that have already been working so hard and allow them to really enjoy this holiday season with their families,” said Onwualu.

The families are all patients of St. Paul’s St. Mary’s Health Clinics (SMHC) that provides primary care to uninsured persons who have no other source of healthcare and are not eligible for subsidized healthcare coverage. “The recipients were chosen because they had a very hard year filled with chronic issues including COVID and difficult personal and family situations,” said Christina Flood- Urdangarin, SMHC Outreach manager. “I’d like to thank James and his family for making this happen, for thinking of us, and giving the opportunity to help Latino families. It is a blessing.”

This outreach to four St. Paul families was part of “A December To Remember” initiated by New England Patriots Linebacker Brandon Copeland’s foundation in partnership with Amazon, 19 other current and former NFL players, The NFL Foundation and Zebra Technologies, Beyond The Basics, Inc.

St. Mary’s Health Clinics (SMHC) provide primary care to uninsured persons who have no other source of healthcare and are not eligible for subsidized healthcare coverage. A ministry of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, its model is volunteer based—there are no paid providers and even the medical director is a volunteer; many volunteers are retired from clinical practice. Clinics are held in donated spaces in the community, primarily in schools and churches and with support from the major local health care systems. Many of its patients have chronic health problems including diabetes and hypertension that are typically addressed at Twin Cities-wide in-person SMHC clinics.

Beyond The Basics, Inc., established in 2017 by Brandon and Taylor Copeland, is an award-winning non-profit organization focused on empowering young people to maximize their potential by exposing them to enriching experiences. Beyond The Basics coordinates significant annual community initiatives focused on youth empowerment across the country, such as BTB Youth Football Camp, A December To Remember Holiday Shopping Spree, COVID-19 Food Initiative and Growth Through Golf.


Christina Urdangarin-Flood, SMHC Outreach manager, cflood@stmarysclinics.org, 651-287-7767

Chad Copeland, beyondthebasicsinc@gmail.com and Chad.Copeland.Info@gmail.com, 410-446-6547

Ann Thompson, athompson@sagecommunication.com, 651-592-3900

December 24th, 2020