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Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation Hosts Inaugural Back To School Fair

Posted Aug 22, 2015

The Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation, with the help of Catholic Charities, on Saturday hosted its inaugural Back To School Fair at FedExField.

The Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation, with the help of Catholic Charities, on Saturday hosted its inaugural Back To School Fair at FedExField.

A large portion of the club level at FedExField turned into a makeshift dentist’s office on Saturday, when the Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation, with the help of Catholic Charities, hosted their inaugural Back To School Fair.

The Back To School fair, designed to give low-income children a central place to be completely prepared for the upcoming school year, provided its participants with a variety of goods and services, such as dental exams, school physicals, eye exams, haircuts and brand new school supplies and backpacks.

As they watched their two children –  Arndre, 10, and Paris, 7 – finish up an exam with one of the many dentists on hand Saturday, Tiarra Price and Collin Edwards of Maryland said they were incredibly appreciative of the opportunity to take part in the event.

“I think it’s so nice what they’re doing,” Price said. “Because a lot of people don’t have health insurance or might not have the money to get school supplies, so I think this is a great event.”

Jane Rodgers, executive director of the Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation, said the inaugural Back To School Fair was built around the opportunity to provide dental services to children who otherwise might not get the chance to have a cleaning, X-Ray or a baby tooth extraction in the near future.

“Dental is the No. 1 thing children living in challenging circumstances or poverty don’t have access to or they don’t have insurance for,” Rodgers said. “And we all know our smile is of our calling card, so we want to make sure the kids have a great smile. So that was the No. 1 thing we started with, and then we built backwards off that, so a child that’s coming here with get everything they need.”

From the dentist’s chair to the barber’s chair, the children on Saturday also had the chance to get a free haircut courtesy of Hair Cuttery – because, as Rodgers said, there’s nothing better than “going back to school with a fresh haircut” – as well as a gift card for a free pair of shoes, new socks courtesy of Under Armour and a nice, new colorful Redskins backpack accompanied by every essential school supply for the upcoming year.

The participating families also received two tickets to the Redskins-Jaguars preseason game Sept. 3 at FedExField.

Manning the backpack station on Saturday was two-time Super Bowl champion Ravin Caldwell. The former Redskins linebacker, a fixture at Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation events throughout the year, said “what they’re doing for the community is great, and I will always continue to support them.”

“The whole event – if you go down there and see what they’re doing with the dental and back-to-school stuff – it’s amazing,” said Caldwell, who joined fellow Redskins alums Jeris White, Dan Ryzcek, Clarence Vaughn, Darryl Pounds, Darnerien McCants, Tyronne Drakeford, Chris Draft and the Washington Redskins Cheerleaders at the event. “They do a great job, and I’m proud to be a part of it.”

Rodgers said she was appreciative of all the other Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation’s partners who helped out at Saturday’s Back To School Fair, too, including the Kellar Family Foundation, Children’s National Health System, Coca-Cola, Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind, the National Center for Missing and Exploted Children, TeamSmile and University of Maryland School of Public Health.

But the relationship the foundation has with Catholic Charities, especially, helped make Saturday’s event an over-the-top success.

“We see them as a group that really serves our most vulnerable in society,” Rodgers said. “They serve thousands of young people, as well as adults, in the area. So we came together to join forces to identify things that they might have access to that we didn’t, and they’ve been an incredible partner.”

The ultimate goal for the Back To School Fair, Rodgers said, is to make it an annual event to serve, at a minimum, 400 children each year.

“And as we continue to bring on more partners, we’ll continue to grow this event to serve more children and hopefully make a deep impact in the community,” she said.

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