Tis The Season: Colts Give Back With Presents And Presence In December

It's the season of giving. From clothes and shoes and presents to their presence - being able to give back is something the Colts take to heart.

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It started on the third of December. 

The Colts teamed up with LIDS to outfit an entire elementary school with new coats, hats, and gloves for the winter season. 

And it's continued all month long.

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"The month of December is always pretty packed with what we're doing as a club," said Ashley Powell, Community Relations Director for the Colts. "And then, we have players who want to give back in their own way and they lean on us for that."

Dozens of players, endless events, and countless kids - all with one goal in mind.

"Just wanting kids to have a special Christmas and a special holiday season and to feel loved," Powell said. "To know that they're loved and there's someone out there who cares for them beyond their family."

The Indianapolis Colts and Lids helped outfit over 250 underprivileged youth with new winter coats, gloves and warm knit hats for the holiday season at Ralph Waldo Emerson 58.

"It's a blessing to be in this situation," said defensive end Justin Houston. "God showed me so much grace and mercy, so if I have the opportunity to do for others, I definitely try."

Signed by the Colts in March, the day Houston stepped foot in Indianapolis - it was his community. 

"We're all children of God, so it doesn't matter where you are," he said.

From hosting Thanksgiving to distributing school supplies, Houston and his family have taken Indy - and a handful of organizations - under their wing.

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"I just try to help out in as many ways as possible," he said. "I just pray about it and whatever God puts on my heart, I do."

For Houston and many of his teammates, giving back is in their blood.

Just like football, it's what they do.

For many of them, it goes back to their childhood.

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"This time of year means a lot to me because I didn't always get the Christmas gifts that I wrote on my list to Santa," said cornerback Kenny Moore. "I had to learn how to be blessed and passionate about the things I did have - like my mom putting food on the table and clothes on my back."

On December 9th, Moore and his teammates partnered with Meijer to help kids from Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Indiana shop for themselves and their loved ones.

"When you're a kid, it's not always an option to get to go pick out things for the people that you love, so it feels really special. It's a really important memory for a lot of them," said Darcey Palmer-Shultz, the organization's CEO.

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Moore remembers holidays other people made special for him. 

"My Sunday school teacher got me a really cool bike one Christmas and that was a Christmas that was pretty important to my family," he said. 

Having the opportunity to pay it forward is something Moore and his teammates don't take for granted.

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And seeing the generosity of the kids was heartwarming for all of them.

"They were getting helped out, but they were also trying to help their mother or brother or someone in their life that's special to them," said guard Mark Glowinski. "They actually wanted to use it to get something for someone else. I thought that was just incredible to see."

Bringing smiles to the faces of kids is something the Colts do all year long.

But for kids in the hospital at Christmastime, it means a little more.

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"You want to bring them as much of the Christmas spirit as you can and as much holiday spirit as you can," said tackle Anthony Castonzo. "Seeing a smile on a kid's face when they usually wouldn't have it is amazing."

On December 17th, the Colts brought smiles to the faces of kids at Riley Hospital for Children as they went room to room delivering gifts, singing Christmas carols, and spreading holiday cheer.  

"It's a feel-good thing. It helps them and it brings a little light to a bad situation," said center Ryan Kelly. "It lifts you up."

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It's all in good fun - but there's a healing element to it as well.

"It's well documented that bringing joy and play and hope to a child or a family who's in distress around an illness can change that trajectory," said Dr. Paul Haut, Chief Operating Officer at Riley Children's Health. "They bring that passion to the hospital just like they bring it every day. Whether they win or lose - they're going to help drive a change."

After a late night and a tough loss in New Orleans, the players also needed a lift. And the kids helped put things in perspective.

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"It makes what we do so small. It shows us as bad as we feel we may have it, somebody may have it worse," said quarterback Jacoby Brissett. "And the kids who probably have it worse than us are in a better mood than us."

A bad day on the football field is no comparison to a bad day at the hospital.

"Our patients don't always win either," said Haut.

But the players can take their experience on the field and use it to help others off of it.

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"I think there were a couple of moments with some patients and families that were having a hard day and this totally made a difference," Haut said. "There was one mom, who after we were singing - she had to sit down. She said, 'I'm getting emotional. I'm sorry.' And everyone was like, 'No. That's why we're here.' That was a really beautiful moment."

Just like football, healing kids takes teamwork.

"We talk about patient or family centered care. The Colts are a key part of our team," said Haut. "It takes the whole community working together to accomplish what we need to."

From coats and hats to shoes, school supplies, and toys - in December, the Colts give back in a big way.

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Playing football is what they do.

But making memories is who they are.

And those on the receiving end will cherish them for years to come.

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Seasons and games

And records and such

Losses are painful

And wins aren't enough

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At the end of the day

It's not about chatter

It's moments and memories and people that matter

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In this season of giving

Please don't forget

The moments you make

Are the best gifts you get

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So gather with loved ones

And celebrate too

And cheer on the Colts

The white and the blue

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At the end of the day

What's meant to be

Is not up to us -

To you and to me

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Trust in the process

On this Christmas Eve

And never forget

You've got to Believe!

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