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UPDATED: Browns visit Columbia Middle School -- with grant in tow

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    Browns rookie Seth Devalve talks to the students from Copopa Elementary School and Columbia Middle School. The middle school received a $10,000 check for an upgrade of the lunchroom.

    BRUCE BISHOP / CHRONICLE

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    Browns mascot Chomps high-fives the kids as they leave the gym at Columbia Middle School.

    BRUCE BISHOP / CHRONICLE

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    Cleveland Browns players Ibraheim Campbell (24), Ed Reynolds II (39), and Cody Parkey (3) visited the gym at Columbia Middle School, where they brought a check for $10,000.

    BRUCE BISHOP / CHRONICLE

COLUMBIA STATION — The Cleveland Browns are on the verge of experiencing the worst losing season in franchise history, but they won the hearts of elementary and middle school students Tuesday by handing over a $10,000 check for a new cafeteria.

Students decked out in orange and brown cheered as loud as they could for Ibraheim Campbell, Seth DeValve, Cody Parkey, Ed Reynolds II and Cleveland Browns mascot Chomps, who extolled the virtues of working out and fueling their bodies right during a school assembly. They also handed out signed football helmets to eight lucky students.

The event was also sponsored by the American Dairy Association.

After the check was presented, the Browns players went into the classrooms and made fruit smoothies with the kids while answering their questions.

Sarah Napaier, 9, kept getting out of her seat to hug the players.

“I got really, really excited,” Sarah said when asked how she felt about the Browns at her school.

Food Services Director Brandi Villanueva applied for the grant but was in disbelief when the American Dairy Association called to say the school won.

“We have some pretty outdated equipment, so I knew there was a need there,” Villanueva said.

The grant is also part of Fuel Up to Play 60, an in-school nutrition and physical activity program launched by the National Football League and the National Dairy Council in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The program encourages youths to eat nutrient-rich food and do at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day.

The players’ visit is part of the team’s “10 Days of Giving” initiative in Northeast Ohio where every day from Dec. 10 to 19 the Browns announce and highlight community opportunities that rally the organization and Cleveland area together to make a difference.

Superintendent Graig Bansek said the cafeteria was on the school’s five-year plan to fix. He also thanked the players for their interaction with the kids.

“Their day off, coming out to support our schools — that’s awesome,” Bansek said.

Contact Jodi Weinberger at 329-7245 or jweinberger@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter @Jodi_Weinberger.

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