The Browns rookie tight end walked the aisles of the store here with a young boy, Ezekiel, as part of teammate and veteran counterpart
“He loves LEGOs and it was cool because I loved LEGOs when I was little kid,” DeValve said. “And I haven't been in Toys R Us since I was probably his age. It was cool bonding with him.”
The pair of tight ends hosted 20 students from OhioGuidestone's Stepstone Academy, where they helped kids pick out gifts for either themselves or family members.
"Some of these kids don't get this opportunity, they've never been to a Toys R Us or something like that and I feel like every kid deserves to have a good Christmas and enjoy this,” Barnidge said. “I enjoy giving back and putting a smile on their faces, I’m in a position to better impact kids’ lives and people’s lives and I want to do it in a positive way.”
“Christmas and the holiday season is a special time and we think about getting gifts and receiving gifts and giving,” DeValve said, “and we forget sometimes there people who can afford to give gifts or get gifts for themselves. Gary has opened up his heart and his wallet.”
Indeed, Barnidge sponsors the event through his nonprofit, American Football Without Barriers, which aims to spread the sport across the world through camps and outreach event to underprivileged communities.
“An event like this really has more meaning to these children than anyone of us can imagine,” superintendent Jim Dombrowski said. “It’s something we impress upon the children to work hard toward their goals and we select the children based on teacher recommendation and reward them.”
Tuesday’s event is is part of the Browns’ “10 Days of Giving” initiative, which is through the Browns First and Ten volunteering campaign to make an impact in Northeast Ohio, bring awareness to local community partners and to share stories of generosity to inspire Browns fans to give back to others during the holidays.
From December 10-19, the Browns will announce and highlight special community opportunities that rally the entire organization and Cleveland together to make a difference through the collaboration of executives, coaches, players, staff and Browns fans.
At 10 a.m. each morning throughout goodwill effort, the Browns will post a new community initiative for that day to share how the team will be active in Northeast Ohio and to encourage others to engage within their own communities throughout the holidays.