CLEVELAND -- The holiday season is a time of giving and the Cleveland Browns not only take that message to heart, but also make sure they spread their good fortune to the Cleveland community.
On Tuesday evening, the Cleveland Browns Foundation, Browns players and Russell Athletic held their annual Holiday Extravaganza at the Cuddell Recreation Center in Cleveland. At the event, 150 children from the city of Cleveland’s 20 recreation centers were each given a toy to take home.
“That’s our goal, to try and make sure we’re reaching the kids that aren’t covered through other programs and initiatives and make sure they realize they are special,” said Renee Harvey, director of community outreach for the Browns. “Everyone deserves to feel great on Christmas and during this time of year. What makes this really special is this is something that is funded by our players. This is something they feel motivated to do. They have hearts of gold and this is something they’re very passionate about doing.”
Browns tight end
“It’s definitely a great event,” Watson said. “I’ve been here for the last two years with the guys getting toys for the kids. All of us came from rec centers. We all played at rec centers. It’s great to see these kids and how they reacted to seeing us. It means everything. Like we told them, Christmas is about giving. A lot of times we focus on the getting, but it’s about giving. Our challenge to them was to receive the gifts given to them, but also give a gift to someone else. Christmas is about God giving His Son to us, so we just want to spread that to other people.”
In addition to the players, members of the Browns Women’s Organization, Jasmatia Schaefering and Rachel McCoy, attended the event.
“They were here in support of their husbands and it goes to show that the community outreach done by the organization not only extends into the locker room, but it also extends into the other parts of the organization, such as the BWO,” Harvey said. “They’ve continued to give back throughout the season and this is one more example of how they’ve been able to do that.”
Before receiving the holiday gifts, the children were surprised by the visit from the players. The gifts were purchased through financial contributions from the Browns players and with support from the Cleveland Browns Foundation and Russell Athletic.
“I can’t stop smiling,” said Michael Cox, director of public works for the city of Cleveland. “It’s something you have to live to understand. I came up through these rec centers and some of these kids may not have gotten anything for Christmas. It’s just a special thing that the Cleveland Browns do every year. It’s the greatest thing we do for these children. I have to thank the Browns because they have done a marvelous job getting the players involved in giving back to the community.”