When asking different departments to describe Merritt McCarthy only positive thoughts come into consideration; beautiful mind, exciting, energetic, just to name a few.
McCarthy is the Community Outreach and Charitable Donations Manager for the St. Louis Rams. Because she does so much work for the organization, McCarthy is sometimes known as a miscellaneous employee.
“I started out at the Rams as an executive assistant and then straddled the line between the community and football administration,” McCarthy said. “Then as changes came along and people left I went all the way into community outreach, which I really like.”
McCarthy has a long list of responsibilities. As a charitable donations manager, she handles items for auctions, fundraisers, autographs, tickets and pretty much any incentive you can think of. She reads loads of mail and other resources to further learn about groups in the community. She’s also in charge of inventory, staying on top of orders and making sure the Rams have what they need.
On the community outreach end, McCarthy is a project leader for many of the programs through which the Rams lend a hand. She handles the Motion for Kids party where the Rams host over 3,000 kids in foster and adoptive care, kids of incarcerated parents, kids in transition and kids of deployed parents. Other efforts include Rams Race for the Cure, charity ticket distribution and she awards and requests grant money.
McCarthy graduated from SIU Carbondale with a communications degree and public relations minor and began working as a reporter at a daily newspaper, the Du Quoin Evening Call. She later moved to the city to take a job at an advertising agency. She quickly decided agency work was not what she wanted to do. McCarthy longed for more so she eventually got into special events.
“I do a lot of the creative stuff,” McCarthy said. “I like to generate ideas.”
In time, McCarthy landed with the Rams in 2001. To her, the most appealing thing about the Rams was their involvement with foundational work.
McCarthy claims she’s not the biggest sports fan in the building but she adores her job. Originally she had no idea of the magnitude of her surroundings. During her first year with the Rams, they ended up appearing in their third Super Bowl.
Since she arrived in 2001, McCarthy has witnessed all of the ups and downs. She watched her department develop. An important factor to the advancement of this division was due to sites like Twitter and Facebook in conjunction with the website. These additions helped community outreach progress and become more connected to the community. Everyone became excited about work and the rapid pace that information was released.
“We’re a necessity because we’ve been here doing nice things this whole time but now we can really make an impact,” McCarthy said. “We’re teamed up and everyone’s on board.”
McCarthy enjoys putting smiles on kids’ faces and searching for new entities to support. She believes the most important thing about community outreach is making sure the public, especially the kids, are taken care of.
McCarthy’s most exciting project was the creation of the Rams’ Recipes book. The book contains recipes on one side and fun, quick workouts for children to do in between commercial breaks or on the go. The Rams are heavily involved in the NFL’s Play60 initiative, which stresses the importance of daily exercise for children. The Midwest has higher obesity rates than other areas and the book was created to help children eat right and exercise.
Being that the community is busy year-round, the community outreach team has to always do its job to make things work.
“The important thing is continuing to do good things, continuing to keep it fresh, continuing to come up with new ideas to keep our public engaged,” McCarthy said. “We know it is the kids who are most important because they will be our future and we want to make the best experience.”
McCarthy is proud of the growth the Rams have experienced in community involvement. She loves her job because she loves to find creative ways to help people. She constantly reads and pays attention to minute details.
“I try to just read everything I can, even little tiny articles about different benefits and things because chances are two lines are going to give you information about a great organization that’s probably been there for 40 years that we’ve never heard of that touches a lot of people that have never asked us for anything,” McCarthy said. “If we can reach out and touch them we can make such a greater impact. I think it’s the unsolicited reach out that makes the biggest impact.”