Redskins running back Alfred Morris and cheerleaders Chelsea Rae and Tedi joined the Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation Monday for a Redskins Read event in Washington, D.C.
Redskins running back Alfred Morris picked up his copy of Have You Filled A Bucket Today? and took a deep breath Monday afternoon.
"I was almost a little nervous," Morris said with a smile. "I don't think I've ever read a book in front of this many people before."
Despite any nerves, Morris was happy to get back out in the community with the Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation, which on Monday partnered with Everybody Wins! DC for a Redskins Read event at Thomson Elementary School in Washington, D.C.
Everybody Wins! DC is a non-profit organization that focuses on promoting children's literacy by providing shared reading experiences. Students at Thomson Elementary have the chance to participate in the organization's Power Lunch program, in which reading mentors help to improve comprehension level and foster a love for learning.
Morris, who was joined at the event Monday by Washington Redskins cheerleaders Chelsea Rae and Tedi, read Have You Filled a Bucket Today? by Carol McCloud, a story that encourages students to engage in positive "bucket filling" behavior instead of negative "bucket dipping" behavior.
The fourth-year Florida Atlantic product said he was happy to deliver the positive message provided by Have You Filled a Bucket Today? to the 100 students taking part in Monday's event.
"It hopefully has a huge impact on them," Morris said. "I mean, if we had more people filling buckets in a sense in this world it would be a lot better place than it is."
The Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation partnered with Everybody Wins! DC to host a Thanksgiving-themed reading event at Thomson Elementary School on Monday, November 23, 2015.
Mary Salander, the Executive Director of Everybody Wins! DC, knows just how imperative it is for literacy to be promoted at schools like Thomson Elementary.
"Our partnership is really aligned with the Redskins' (Charitable Foundation), because the focus is getting the children up to speed and reading on grade level, and that is a struggle here," she explained.
For the students, having the chance to meet a Redskins player and cheerleaders through the Power Lunch program only makes it that much more exciting.
"The children of Washington, D.C., are fans of the Washington Redskins, so it means a great deal — especially to see him on stage, modeling by reading in front them. So this is critical," Salander said.
As the students prepare for a few days off from school for the holiday, Everybody Wins! DC donated books so that each child could have some brand new reading material to enjoy over their break.
Morris, who was an avid reader himself as a child, said that he hopes this program can help students learn to see reading as an enjoyable, positive experience.
"It gives them a voice in a way. I remember growing up and just reading a lot of books, and it's just getting them to kind of talk back instead of sitting there having someone talking at them all the times," he said. "I grew up very, very shy, and a lot of times books can help with that. I obviously like reading books in this program so it's just a common point that we can use to interact a little more to help them come out of their shell a little bit."