The Washington Redskins Women's Club & Redskins Salute hosted a Care Package Assembly Night to put together packages to send to soldiers overseas on Tuesday, February 24, 2015.
Whether a member of the military or the Washington Redskins, it always takes a team effort to accomplish a particular task or goal.
On Tuesday, representatives from both sides came together to take on a very important mission.
One hundred members each from the Women of Washington Redskins (WOW) and Redskins Salute – joining forces for the first time – came to Redskins Park in Loudoun County, Va., and, under the leadership of current and former Redskins players and cheerleaders, assembled hundreds of care packages for U.S. troops stationed overseas.
“It's really cool,” Redskins fullback Darrel Young said of the event. “It lets them know that they're appreciated for everything that they do. Just sending them anything that you can send, they're always appreciative, because they can't always get the goods that they like. So you just like to send anything over there to show you care.”
Tuesday’s Care Package Assembly Night, which was also hosted by Papa John’s and Coca-Cola, featured two teams of members from WOW – the Redskins’ official women’s fan club – and Redskins Salute – the team’s official military appreciation club – who assembled in the team’s indoor training facility.
From there, “Team Akeem” and “Team Darrel” – led by safety Akeem Davis and Young – squared off in an intense package assembly process, with Redskins alums Dexter Manley and Ravin Caldwell acting as referees, keeping time and counting the number of packages assembled.
The two teams were also aided by the support of Redskins defensive coordinator Joe Barry, Redskins Cheerleader Ambassadors, Felicia and Angela, and Jacqueline Griffin, the mother of quarterback Robert Griffin III and a retired Army sergeant.
“I got the e-mail and I read about it and I responded right away that I wanted to be a part of it,” Barry said. “I think any time that you can give back to people who are fighting for our freedom, I think you've got to jump all over it.”
For Barry, Tuesday’s event was also his first opportunity to get out and meet with Redskins fans after being hired as the team’s defensive coordinator last month.
“I think me and my wife are looking to jump in with both hands and feet and arms and everything,” he said. “The fans, the community, they mean everything to us. So any time you can give anything back -- even if it's an appearance just to show up and shake a hand and say 'Hi' -- I think it's something that absolutely I want to do, and look forward to doing.”
All care packages assembled Tuesday night will be shipped to U.S. troops stationed overseas by Operation Gratitude, a non-profit organization whose mission is to lift spirits and meet the evolving needs of active duty and veteran communities, and provide volunteer opportunities for all Americans to express their appreciation to members of the military.
Since its inception in 2003, Operation Gratitude volunteers have shipped more than one million care packages.
For Young, Tuesday’s event was another chapter in his ever-lasting support of the military. The 2014 Redskins representative for the Walter Payton Man of the Year’s father served in the Army, and his brother, Sgt. 1st Class David Young Jr., has served for more than 16 years, completing several tours in the Middle East in recent years.
David Young Jr. tells his brother he’s always appreciative when a care package is sent his way, but remembers one gift in particular that helped get him through tough times.
“It's the weirdest thing: out of everything in the world, he wanted sunflower seeds,” Darrel recalled with a smile. “That's it. He had a craving for them, I sent them to him, and it was cool. So anything to make people feel better, that's what you want to do.”