Baltimore Ravens Volunteer After Freddie Gray Riots, Challenging Students To Help Make Change

It's been a difficult week for Baltimore, as protestors stormed the streets in response to Freddie Gray's death after an arrest by Baltimore police, with a small portion of demonstrations turning into riots. Multiple businesses were looted, leaving parts of the city in disarray and in need of clean up efforts, but a lot of people volunteered to help put the city back together. On Thursday the city's beloved athletes, the Baltimore Ravens, helped Baltimore recover from the riots by delivering food and visiting schools in West Baltimore.

The Ravens sent two busloads of coaches and players, 85 people total and 55 players, to West Baltimore to talk to people in the community and help out where they could. The group was dropped off at Matthew A. Hensen Elementary School where they gave out food to more than 500 students and families. They then walked to Frederick Douglass High School, near the Mondawmin Mall that was looted Monday, to meet with students, shaking hands and greeting people throughout the neighborhood. According to CBS Local, students at the high school were caught leaving school early Monday and clashing with the police. Ray Lewis spoke to the school at an assembly, saying:

We have an opportunity to change Baltimore. If you want to make real change, be the example of change... We don't win wars with wars. Go home. Baltimore we got a real opportunity. All eyes are on us.

Lewis challenged students to do things differently, saying: "Over the next 30 days, if you do nothing else … do everything differently than you’ve always done if you’re looking for different results." Lewis reportedly skipped the first round of the NFL draft in Chicago on Thursday in order to talk to the students. The former linebacker urged Baltimore's youth earlier in the week to stay off the streets, saying, "Violence is not the answer. Violence has never been the answer. Freddie Gray ... we don't do nothing for him doing this."

The Ravens met with football coaches and players at the high school, and Ravens head coach John Harbaugh urged them to stay disciplined and to lead. Harbaugh said in an interview with CNN afterwards: "This is what it’s all about." Baltimore residents are coming together to find answers about Gray's death and to discourage violence while doing so. The popular hashtag that caught on in Boston following the Boston Marathon bombing, #BostonStrong, has been readapted for Baltimore as residents fight to stay strong. The Ravens tweeted: "We love this city. Always have. Always will. #BaltimoreStrong."

Images: Baltimore Ravens/Facebook (3)