Kirby Smart, family giving back through foundation

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Georgia head football coach Kirby Smart and his wife, Mary Beth, talk about their foundation's growth in three years. (Video by Chip Towers/AJC)

It’s well known that Kirby Smart makes a lot of money as Georgia’s football coach. It’s also important to note that he and his wife, Mary Beth, donate a lot it to charitable causes.

That fact was underscored again on Wednesday in the recruiting lounge of the Bulldogs’ locker room in the west end of Sanford Stadium. The Smarts hosted their annual Kirby Smart Family Foundation luncheon recognizing their beneficiaries and those who donate to their many causes.

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“The focus is on helping children and families in need in the state of Georgia and here locally in Athens,” Mary Beth Smart said during a short media briefing with her husband before the luncheon. “We’ve grown from 27 charities last year to 50 this year, which is super exciting. We’ve kind of expanded throughout the state.”

The foundation has donated approximately $620,000 in the three years since its formation.

“So many people work so hard to make it all possible,” Smart said. “It wouldn’t be possible without (Mary Beth) and all the hard work she does. We’re really excited about it.”

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Kirby and Mary Beth Smart (back row, center, in red) pose Wednesday with children and their parents who benefit from the Kirby Smart Family Foundation.

Kirby and Mary Beth Smart (back row, center, in red) pose Wednesday with children and their parents who benefit from the Kirby Smart Family Foundation.

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Kirby and Mary Beth Smart (back row, center, in red) pose Wednesday with children and their parents who benefit from the Kirby Smart Family Foundation.

The Smarts posed for pictures with dozens of donors and beneficiaries before the luncheon, which was officiated by radio broadcaster Jeff Dantzler. Members of Georgia football’s leadership committee — including Tyler Clark, David Marshall, Richard LeCounte, D’Andre Swift, Solomon Kindley, Andrew Thomas, J.R. Reed, Jake Fromm, Rodrigo Blankenship, Monty Rice, Tyler Simmons, Azeez Ojulari, Eric Stokes and Charlie Woerner — also attended and sat at the other end of the expansive recruiting lounge, autographing posters and posing for pictures with attendees prior to lunch.

Among the Smart Foundation’s 50 beneficiaries are Extra Special People, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Camp Sunshine, Sunshine on a Rainy Day.

“There are a lot of new ones,” Kirby Smart said. “As applications go up it’s tougher for us to make decisions. But it’s a good problem to have. We hope to reach all across the state of Georgia.

The Smarts’ profile as philanthropists has grown considerably over the past two years as Kirby Smart’s compensation as Georgia’s coach doubled from $3.5 million annually to $7 million last year. In addition to the foundation’s work, they also donate to several other causes. This past year, they gave enough money to the Terry College of Business that the school named one of its classrooms after Kirby Smart.

“Yeah, they’re actively using it now,” Smart said. “We’re really excited about getting our name on it because both of us are Terry grads.”

The Bulldogs practiced five days in a row before getting the day off Wednesday from preseason camp. They’ll return to Woodruff Practice Fields on Thursday.

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Georgia football coach Kirby Smart on the importance of his players giving back to their community. (Video by Chip Towers/AJC)