“Us Redskins get to play Santa for the day,” running back
Morris was one of nine Redskins players to take part in the annual Skins Santa Shoppe that transforms the Redskins’ locker room at FedExField in Santa’s Toy Shoppe.
“This event is definitely very near and dear to my heart,” Morris said. “I was once one of these kids, going to different programs and events so I could get a Christmas present, because we weren’t fortunate enough to have gifts like this.
“I wouldn’t change my upbringing for the world, but this is huge because it’s a chance to give back and I love it.”
Tanya Snyder, wife of Redskins owner Daniel M. Snyder, was also in attendance, joined by Kiersten Allen, wife of general manager Bruce Allen.
“This is such a great day at FedExField. The kids are so excited by in our locker room,” Allen said. “We give away thousands of toys away to so many kids. They get to pick from toys donated by our amazing fans.
“It’s great to have partners like the Marines and our players coming together to put smiles on these kids’ faces.”
The event is also fun for the Marines selected to attend, as they get the opportunity to spend the day hanging out with NFL players and giving back to the community.
For first lieutenant Peter Smith, that is what it is all about.
“I came from an environment, where I didn’t have a lot growing up, so I’m excited for these kids,” he said. “In the Marine Corps, we serve overseas in war. It’s good to know that even when we aren’t serving in a war capacity, we’re still able to help out the kids here in peace.
“I’m positive that without the efforts of this organization, some of these kids would have woken up on Christmas Day and not had a gift under the tree.”
Dawn Stem serves as the local coordinator for “Toys For Tots,” and has been a partner with the Redskins for years. While holiday charity is nothing new, Stem knows that the Redskins’ influence helps energize people to give.
“We are blessed to be a partner with the Redskins; they’ve been dedicated to us, they’ve supported us, and without them it would not be as successful as it is each year,” Stem said. “Some of these kids won’t even be able to have a holiday—this could be their holiday.”
For one other Redskins player in the room, it was an early Christmas present just to be back interacting with fans. Nose tackle Chris Neild tore his ACL in preseason action and has been a shadow around Redskins Park in the months since.
Neild worked out yesterday morning before going the stadium and interacting with fans for the first time all season.
“I did this event last year, but it’s good to see so many kids in here,” he said, in between helping kids find the perfect gift. “It feels good to be getting healthy and it feels good to give back to the kids.
“I just want to make sure they have a good Christmas—that’s what it’s all about.”