In the midst of the daily grind of the NFL schedule, the holiday season quickly approached.
Before they knew it, the Monday before Thanksgiving snuck up on Ravens players. It was right around this time when they found out that Head Coach John Harbaugh would give the team the day off from practice on Thanksgiving to spend time with their families. In that moment they realized … "I want to do something with my time in our community for the holiday."
"What can I do? Where can I go? Who needs a helping hand?" These are just a few of the many eager questions the Ravens Community Relations (CR) Department fields around this time of year. It is the department's job to help guide the players and assist them with their community giving efforts.
Many players, such as cornerback Lardarius Webb, continue to host annual events during the holidays. On Monday, Nov. 23, Webb held his seventh-annual Turkey Drive, in partnership with the United Way, and distributed Thanksgiving turkeys and side dishes to local children and their families at the Webster Kendrick Boys & Girls Club (Baltimore, Md.). He was joined by punter Sam Koch, defensive back Anthony Levine Sr., kicker Justin Tucker and running back Terrance West for another successful event.
"This is something I do yearly, just from the heart," explained Webb. "I love the kids, I love the Baltimore area and I am trying to help out any way I can and just give my time."
Some players, with the same great intentions, are a little more last minute and need help in figuring out what it is they can do to best serve our community in a time of need.
On Tuesday evening, Nov. 24, the CR Department received a call from Ravens tackle Eugene Monroe, explaining how he and his wife, Nureya, wanted to serve Thanksgiving meals out of their GoGanics Food Truck and needed ideas on where in the city they should go the following day. Phone calls to city resources were quickly made and a location on Fallsway in Baltimore City was determined. On Wednesday, Nov. 25, while Monroe attended practice at the Under Armour Performance Center, his family helped serve 200 meals to homeless men and women from their food truck.
Ravens wide receiver Kamar Aiken had plans to buy food on his own and distribute it. With heartfelt intentions, he didn't realize how difficult it would be to find a turkey – let alone a few dozen – the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Also, it was following practice and most schools, businesses and charitable organizations were officially closed for the holiday.
But with the help of the CR Department, Aiken rallied fellow wide receivers Marlon Brown and Chris Givens and served food on Thanksgiving Day at St. Vincent's Villa, a residential treatment and diagnostic facility for children with significant emotional and behavioral challenges.
Now in December, and with Christmas just a few weeks away, planning for Ravens holiday events are underway. And while some events may come together last minute, all will make an unforgettable impact in our Baltimore community this holiday season.