Cleveland Browns safety T.J. Ward enjoys putting smiles on the faces of children, and through his “Christmas ReWard” event, he was able to give 35 kids from the Applewood Centers a holiday shopping spree on Thursday evening.
“It’s the holiday season and all kids aren’t as fortunate as we were growing up and as fortunate as we are now,” Ward said. “It’s just another way to give back and show them people really do care about them. During this season, it’s important for kids that don’t have everything and are going through a lot of things a time of happiness and joy like everyone else.
“I just like to see people happy. Whenever I can get the opportunity to make somebody else happy, make somebody else smile, even if it is just for a day and make it last for as long as possible, I feel a lot better.”
The Applewood Centers is a private, non-profit organization that offers mental health, educational and social services to children and families in Lorain and Cuyahoga Counties. Focused on behavioral, emotional and learning challenges, the Applewood Centers provide outpatient, as well as residential treatment through foster care and adoption programs, as well as an alternative day school and other community-based services.
“During this time, it’s all about family and being together and about loved ones,” Ward said. “The gifts and things, they’re important as well, but it’s just about having everyone come together for good things like this.”
Ward hosted the event with help from several of his teammates, including offensive linemen
“Anytime we can give back to kids, it’s so special just seeing their faces and making them smile,” Haden said. “We’ve been blessed with an opportunity to do this and anytime I get a chance to, I make sure to make it happen.
“The holiday season is a time for giving, a time for you to be a family and a time for you to get gifts when you’re a kid. Just to do that for these kids means a whole lot to me. I find myself laughing a whole lot more. I’m laughing with these kids and they don’t know it, but this is making my day, kicking it with them.”