They roamed the aisles of Meijer with gift cards in hand, 30 kids from the Indy Police Athletic League Club, in search of gifts for themselves and others.
“Most of the PAL Club kids are needy kids in the community that just need some help every now and then,” said Major Michael Jefferson with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department. “They’ve joined the PAL organization to get mentorship from police officers and sports brings them all together.”
On Monday night, the Colts brought them together for some pre-holiday fun.
With the support of Meijer, 30 youth from the Indianapolis Police Athletic League had the opportunity to Shop With A Colt last night to purchase toys, clothes and other items needed around the holiday time.
“This is awesome because the police department, we don’t have the resources,” Jefferson said. “PAL and youth services is not for profit, so any time we can get the sports organizations to donate their time, donate their funds and resources to help out the kids, that’s a great, great partnership.”
It didn’t take much to get the Colts on board.
“There’s an incredible need in a lot of these homes and there are incredible kids in these homes, so it’s awesome to be partnering with them and be able to brighten the holiday season for them and their families,” said safety Matthias Farley. “That’s why everybody is here – to give back and be a part of something bigger than us. It’s just an awesome way to do that, especially this time of year.”
While the kids shopped, Farley and his teammates did the heavy lifting – they pushed the carts, did the math, and helped the kids manage their funds.
“At first, I think they were very excited to have that money, so they grabbed a few things for themselves. But once they had a couple items, it was cool to see them think about other people,” said tight end Ryan Hewitt. “It’s one of those things where it’s not the gift that matters, it’s the thought that’s behind it.”
James decided to pick up something for his mom.
“Because I love her,” he said. “I think she’s going to cry.”
He appreciated the time he got to spend with Hewitt, as well as the patience he showed him.
“You know how he helped me? Being a good sport,” he said.
Linebacker Zaire Franklin approached it like game day.
“I was just trying to quarterback the whole situation,” he said. “My man, Elijah here, he broke it down. He said, ‘I’m going to spend a certain amount of my money on video games, I’m going to spend a certain amount of money on toys, and I’m going to spend a certain amount of money on clothes.’ So, we all kind of adopted his game plan.”
Just like on game day, he wanted to do everything he could to ensure a successful outcome.
“There’s nothing more disappointing than getting something you’re really excited about, then you get home and ‘Oh, my clothes don’t fit’ or ‘Man, I bought the wrong Nerf bullets for the Nerf gun, now I can’t even use it.’ I just want to make sure their experience is everything it was supposed to be.”
Franklin knows that sending the kids home with what they want is a gift for the entire family.
For Jeremiah, it was a Nerf gun, some clothes, and a ripstick.
“No matter what’s going on with their parents, just being able to help their families out and take a little bit of the stress off their shoulders – they can maybe focus on some other things.”
But the best present of all was simply their presence.
“I asked Kenny since he was little, what was his dream to be?” said Quortney. “He said a football player.”
“What I said was I had many things I wanted to be,” said cornerback Kenny Moore. “I told him I knew I wanted to be in the NFL when I pursued to be in the NFL. I told him that it’s different from playing with your friends or just doing it for fun. When I pursued it, it became more than just fun. It became a competition to be the best I can be at this sport.”
Two seasons into his NFL career, Moore is making his dream come true. And passing on that knowledge is something he's grateful to be able to do.
“I think the best part was him asking me that question,” he said. “Just a moment he wanted to have with me and I feel like it will be something that he’ll remember down the line, whether it’s football or anything he wants to do in life.”
Eventually, the kids will grow out of the clothes and the toys.
But the time they spent with a Colts player will be something they remember for the rest of their lives.
“A lot of times, the professional sports organizations like the Colts, they seem like they’re so far away that you can’t touch them,” Jefferson said. “This way, you get a chance to touch them. And the Colts giving back to the community that supports them, that’s a great thing.”
It’s a gift the Colts give year round – and one that keeps giving back for years to come.