For most people, a trip to the store before Thanksgiving is something they don't think twice about. They make a list and try to avoid the crowds.
But for the women at Sheltering Wings, an emergency shelter for victims of domestic violence, it's not something they take for granted.
"When they come in, they're in crisis and there's a lot of chaos in their life and this brings some stability and it gives them an opportunity that they couldn't afford," said Residential Services Director Linda Wells.
Excited as they were about the opportunity, for some of the women, it's a little overwhelming at the same time.
"Sometimes they have to think about where they're going, who is going to find them and watch them. We assure them that this is a safe place to do this," Wells said. "Once they know they're safe, then it's like, 'Game on! Let's do this.'"
On Tuesday night, together with Meijer, the Colts provided 14 moms and 27 kids with everything they needed for an evening of shopping – including dinner, childcare, and gift cards.
Meijer and the Colts teamed up to provide a special shopping trip for 10 families from Sheltering Wings!
"They cry, they laugh, they were so excited to come," said Wells. "You could see the children were ecstatic when they found out they had some money to spend too."
While the moms shopped, the kids did crafts and picked out some things for themselves. Assisted by Colts players Jacoby Brissett, Matthias Farley, Luke Rhodes, Colts Cheerleaders, and Colts mascot, Blue, they walked the aisles at Meijer, checking out the latest toys and clothes.
Blue even entertained other shoppers by posing as a stuffed animal and surprising them when they walked by.
For the kids, it was a fun night to just be a kid.
"Just to get out and get into a store and throw balls around, they were playing with Blue, they just had a great time and I think we did too," said Rhodes. "Some of the kids saved money to buy something for someone else. It just goes to show that these kids have so little, but they still think to get something for their mom or for their brother that's not here. It was pretty cool."
And for the moms, it was a chance to provide some normalcy.
"Some of the little kids might not understand what's going on, but they can see their mom take them through the store and buy stuff just like anyone else would," Rhodes said. "I think that's really important for the kids to see their mom being strong and standing up and doing something for them – buying food and whatever else they might need."
But most of all, it was a message that they're not alone.
"There are times when we think no one cares about us," Wells told them. "This is an opportune time for you to see that people you don't even know care enough about you to invest in you."
And for that, they can be truly grateful.