Saints Receiver Donates Time, Talent (and His Cleats) to Arts Nonprofit

NEW ORLEANS – New Orleans Saints wide receiver Kirk Merritt is partnering with KID smART for a series of events designed to “empower children through the transformative power of the arts.”

The first event collaboration, titled “Painting with Saints Player Kirk Merritt,” is scheduled for July 23 at Chez Clay (862 Tchoupitoulas Street) and sold out within minutes. 

“This partnership with KID smART means a lot,” said Merritt in a press release. “Painting has truly been a creative outlet for me outside of the football field but, when I was growing up, access to the arts wasn’t always readily available in my community. I’d like to do whatever I can to make sure children have access to the arts and provide them with the tools they need to keep their imaginations flourishing.”

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There are more than 3,500 students enrolled in KID smART Creative Schools throughout NOLA Public Schools.

Merritt will tour some of these programs this fall to see the impacts of arts-integrated education and serve as an inspiration to students to follow their dreams.

Merritt will also take part in the NFL’s My Cause My Cleats fundraiser this upcoming football season, during which NFL players reveal their passions beyond the game and “wear their hearts on their feet.” Players have the opportunity to pick a cause that is important to them and represent their chosen organization on custom-designed cleats. Merritt’s organization will be KID smART. After wearing the cleats, he will donate them to the NFL Auction and all proceeds from the sale of the cleats will go to KID smART’a mission of engaging children and educators in creative and relevant learning through the arts.

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Later this year, Merritt’s personal artwork will be sold at a fundraising event where proceeds will go to KID smART. This fundraiser will also offer a raffle component where a lucky winner will have a chance to take home one of Merritt’s one-of-a-kind pieces.

“We are beyond grateful for Kirk’s generosity and excited to see where this creative partnership takes us,” said Elise Gallinot Goldman, executive director of KID smART. “Together, we hope to continue empowering children through the transformative power of the arts.”

Artists Campbell Hutchinson and Allison Stewart founded KID smART in 1999 to provide public school students with greater access to arts-rich education. In its 24-year history, the organization has served more than 32,000 students and 5,000 teachers in schools throughout New Orleans. KID smART works within public schools to reach underserved children with the most to gain from an arts-rich, social-emotional education. 

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