For almost a decade, Joe Thomas has helped lift the holiday spirits of kids in need.
The Browns left tackle continued that tradition Tuesday, hosting 30 children from City of Cleveland recreation centers in his "Shop with a Pro" at DICK'S Sporting Goods.
It's always the highlight of my Christmas season," Thomas said. "It's always fun getting a bunch of kids together who might not be able to have a big Christmas and give them the opportunity to go shopping, give themselves a big Christmas."
Thomas, who was joined by teammates such as left guard Joel Bitonio in support of the Browns Give Back First and Ten volunteering campaign, provided each child with a $200 gift card to spend on themselves, family and friends. Each child will also receive a new pair of shoes.
"It's amazing, a lot of these kids will buy stuff for their siblings and parents," Thomas said. "It's really touching."
The holiday shopping spree is made possible through the generosity of Thomas and DICK'S Sporting Goods Foundation. Papa John's is also generously donating food for everyone participating in the holiday event.
It's just an awesome experience," Bitonio said. "It's just another thing that Joe Thomas does that makes him an awesome guy."
Through Browns Give Back, the Cleveland Browns are dedicated to #give10 through the team's First and Ten initiative. Launched in June 2014, the Cleveland Browns First and Ten campaign is the team's community program, established to inspire fans to volunteer in and help their communities throughout the world by volunteering for 10 hours each year.
Through First and Ten, the Browns are the only NFL club to promote a long-term volunteering program that unifies the team and its entire fan base, with the goal of impacting every individual's city across the globe, as well as the franchise's local community. All Browns fans are encouraged to join the volunteering effort by signing the First and Ten pledge on the team's website and by sharing their stories with #give10. For more information, visit ClevelandBrowns.com/brownsgiveback.
The DICK'S Sporting Goods Foundation is a tax exempt 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation with a mission to inspire and enable sports participation. It was created by DICK'S Sporting Goods, Inc. as a private corporate foundation to support DICK'S charitable and philanthropic activities.