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Gary Barnidge enjoys spirit of giving

Posted Dec 25, 2013

Cleveland Browns tight end Gary Barnidge enjoys the spirit of giving, not just at Christmas, but throughout the entire year.

“It is better to give than receive.”

Cleveland Browns tight end Gary Barnidge lives that mantra every day, as he tries to brighten the spirits and change the lives of children as close as in the Cleveland community, and as far away as Beijing, China, and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

“I think it’s huge because we’re in a fortunate position where we are able to do what we do,” Barnidge said. “I want to be able to share that with other people and give them an opportunity to enjoy a great holiday because some kids might not get to, and that’s what it’s about. It’s more about giving for me than it is receiving. I like to give back. It’s huge for me.”

Through a partnership with Samaritan’s Feet, a non-profit group aimed at getting shoes to children around the world, Barnidge donated his game-used cleats to a local child on the field after each home game this year.

“It’s awesome,” Barnidge said. “I enjoy giving back, and just seeing their faces makes it so worthwhile. A couple weeks ago, I had two kids and I gave them each one shoe with a glove. They were brother and sister, and it’s just a great feeling.”

Barnidge’s former teammate with the Carolina Panthers, wide receiver Steve Smith, leaves his shoes on the field after every game to raise awareness and support for Samaritan’s Feet. When Barnidge was approached with the idea to donate his game-used cleats, he quickly jumped at the chance to help those less fortunate.

“I said, ‘I would love to because I think it’s a great thing,’” Barnidge said. “They travel the world giving shoes to kids in different countries, third-world countries. I’m just trying to help them out and show the awareness that kids need shoes.”

Barnidge is hoping to partner with Samaritan’s Feet when he takes his own non-profit organization, American Football Without Borders, to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for an eight-day trip filled with visits to orphanages and football camps.

Last offseason, Barnidge, one of his college teammates and another one of their friends visited Beijing and Shanghai, China. The three founded the charity to help spread their love for helping others and passion for the game of football around the world.

While much of the world is a fan of futbol, or soccer, teaching American football in foreign countries is an experience Barnidge enjoys.

“You’re starting brand new, starting from scratch, but it’s so awesome,” Barnidge said. “That’s one thing that we’re trying to do. We’re trying to spread the sport that we love to play to other countries, but our overall goal is to get these kids looked at by schools here so they actually have an opportunity to do what we do.”

In addition to donating his game-used cleats and teaching the game of football to other cultures, Barnidge spent a recent day taking local children on a holiday shopping spree.

“It was great; it was awesome,” Barnidge said. “Some of the kids had their parents with them and some of the kids, they didn’t know if they were going to get anything for Christmas. To get to see them get a full shopping cart and see their faces when they got to pick out whatever they wanted, it was awesome. I enjoyed it and hope they have a great holiday as well.

“It’s so rewarding. It’s truly rewarding, just because they truly enjoy it. You never know. When you sign autographs for a kid or you spend time with a kid, you never know. You might change that kid’s life. They could be down in the dumps or something’s going on with them. Just that little bit of time with them changes their whole outlook on everything and it could change their life in the long run.”