A bald man with a blinding smile wore a cream and burgundy letter jacket and embraced the hungry people as they passed through the concourse, clapping their shoulders and whispering personal messages.
More than 3,500 families from Prince George’s County arrived at FedExField Saturday to load up on armfuls of popcorn and potatoes and carts full of onions and canned goods at the 11th annual Bank of America Harvest Feast presented by Ryan Homes.
At the final stop, where gleaming frozen turkeys awaited those in need, Donald Hoffman waited.
“You got it?” He asked a woman as he forked over a frozen bird. “I just don’t want to hurt your fingers. You sure? Happy Thanksgiving!”
As one of more than 800 volunteers, about twice the number that showed up last year, Hoffman gave each man, woman and child a parting gift and words of encouragement.
“I’m reminding them that the Redskins love them,” said Hoffman, a suite owner and member of team’s charitable leadership council.
“We believe in them and want them to believe in us too. They’re winners. Even if we’re not winning on the field, we want to be winning with them in their lives.”
While Hoffman doled out farewells, Redskins running back Alfred Morris did his best Heisman pose with a turkey in place of a football. Prince George’s native Josh Wilson helped hand out food along with Joshua Morgan and Dan and Tanya Snyder.
“I see a lot of teeth,” Morris said.
The volunteers organized a monumental effort to distribute the food and pack FedEx trucks that would deliver more Thanksgiving baskets to a church nearby.
Redskins alumni such as Ravin Caldwell and Roy Jefferson helped organize the bags of foodstuffs.
“If I can do something to help someone else, it makes me feel good inside,” Jefferson said.
“It’s something that my mom always taught me and all of us. There are seven of us in our family. Giving back is a feel good thing.”
Members of the Park View High School football team arrived in their blue jerseys, representing a fraction of the teenagers who chose to give back to their communities on a weekend.
“Our guys really want to volunteer and help out,” Park View coach and former Redskins assistant strength and conditioning coach Ferris Eways said.
“I don’t have to force them to come. They could have not showed up at 7 o’clock when we told them to show up at our school, but they did. They just have good hearts.”
People cued outside of the stadium before the event kicked off.
Gregory Price sat in a wheelchair. A burgundy-and-black Redskins jacket over a Robert Griffin III jersey kept him warm. He said his turkey will stay in the freezer this year as he visits his wife in the hospital, but his family will take care of him.
Shelia Bodeal of Capitol Heights, Md., expressed her gratitude for the feast.
“I think it means a lot because the economy is bad. People don’t have no jobs,” she said. “I think it’s a wonderful thing.
“I’m gonna feed all my 10 grandbabies, and my four kids, and whoever comes by.”
Tags: Alfred Morris, Donald Hoffman, harvest feast, josh wilson, Joshua Morgan, Park View High School, ravin caldwell, Roy Jefferson, thanksgiving, washington redskins
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