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Joe Thomas, Browns offer thanks, lunch to military members at Brook Park Armory

Joe Thomas, Robert Griffin III, Austin Pasztor, Shon Coleman, and Ibraheim Campbell join servicemen and servicewomen for lunch at Brook Park Armory. #give10

Joe Thomas has made the military his focus whenever he looks to #give10 around the Cleveland area and beyond, and it hasn't gone unnoticed.

On Tuesday during a visit and lunch with 100 active military members representing all five branches at the Brook Park Armory, Thomas was surprised with a plaque. It was a token of the group's appreciation for all that Thomas has done for them and others during his 10 seasons with the Browns.

"It was a really special surprise," Thomas said. "It feels really good when people that you look up to and are humbled by the work and service they do do something to make you feel good. To say thanks back, that's really special and it's totally unexpected."

Tuesday's visit and lunch, which was catered by Mission BBQ, was another way for Thomas and the Browns to show their appreciation for the men and women who put their lives on the line to protect our country.

"This is the best. This is the best thing about the job we have as professional athletes," said quarterback Robert Griffin III, whose parents logged a combined 34 years in the army. "We have the opportunity and the platform to reach out and truly give back to the things that have impacted our lives the most. Giving back to the military community is big for me and I know it's big for Joe Thomas and a lot of guys here. This is the best part of my day, having the opportunity to come out and put a smile on these guys faces."

Griffin and Thomas were joined by teammates Shon Coleman, Austin Pasztor and Ibraheim Campbell. After addressing the servicemen and servicewomen, the players split up and ate alongside the members of the group.

Chomps, the Browns' mascot, engaged in an impromptu push-up competition near the end of the meal.

"It's always really special to be able to come out and meet the members of the military that support you so much on the field and then obviously protect our country every day of the week," Thomas said. "It's really special to be able to come out here, look a person in the eye and say thanks and get to talk to them, spend a little time getting to know the people and hopefully making them feel good on a day in November."

The 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.

About USO of Northern Ohio:

Since 1941, the USO of Northern Ohio has served as a private, civilian 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that receives no direct government funding but relies solely on the generosity of corporations, organizations, and the American people. The USO of Northern Ohio touches the lives of nearly 45,000 active duty, guard and reserve military and their families throughout our 29-county region. For more than 70 years, the USO of Northern Ohio has provided morale, recreation and social services to US Armed Forces personnel and their families through its programs and services. USO Center facilities are located in the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS), Cleveland Hopkins Airport, the NOSC in Toledo and program processing center in Massillon. The network of hundreds of volunteers donates nearly 20,000 hours of service annually in honor of these brave men and women.

About Mission BBQ:

Mission BBQ first opened its doors on September 11, 2011, the 10th anniversary of the day that changed the world forever. Founders Bill Kraus and Steve Newton, two best friends with a passion for BBQ and a love of country, hoped to open a restaurant with a mission to honor, support and give back to Our American Heroes, in Our Community and Our Country, who Protect, Serve and Save. They traveled across Our Country, from Texas to Kansas City; the Carolinas and St. Louis trying to master America's greatest contribution to culinary arts: BBQ. A few favorite menu items include North Carolina Pulled Pork, Texas Inspired Brisket, Ribs and Jalapeno & Cheese Sausage. Mission BBQ offers customized catering for parties of all sizes. They can feed your whole army. Each Mission BBQ location supports and donates proceeds to local Police Fire and First Responder charities as well as military charities that include the USO, the National Guard and the USO. Every day, at exactly noon, the entire restaurant stands at attention to honor Our Country sing our National Anthem.

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