For the 15th consecutive year, the Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation hosted Harvest Feast, providing Thanksgiving meals for Prince George's County families in need on Monday afternoon at FedExField. *
Upon exiting FedExField, carrying bags of turkey and perishable goods, Landover, Md. native Christie Johnson expressed her utmost thanks knowing she'd be able to host a Thanksgiving meal for her two sons coming home this Thursday.
The Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation hosted the 15th annual Harvest Feast presented by Ryan Homes Monday, Nov. 20, 2017, at FedExField.
"To me, it means joy and happiness and peace, and knowing that people love you," she said. "Knowing they care about you and they want you to have a Happy Thanksgiving. Although your income is low, you can go home and have a happy meal, and that's a blessing."
Johnson was one of thousands of Prince George's County residents in need that braved the cold on Monday, Nov. 20, for the Redskins 15th annual Harvest Feast presented by Ryan Homes. As in years past, the Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation along with 150 volunteers distributed Thanksgiving food baskets, packaged by more than 200 volunteers the previous Friday, whole turkeys, provided by Shoppers Food & Pharmacy and beverages from PepsiCo along the first level concourse.
Aiding in the assistance were Tanya Snyder, wife of Redskins owner Dan Snyder, defensive lineman Anthony Lanier II and Redskins alumni Rocky McIntosh and Ken Jenkins. They greeted everyone with a frozen turkey to place into their stocked bags before Central and Bladensburg High School student-athletes helped cart it all to their cars.
Since 2003, the Redskins have gifted more than 1,242,335 pounds of packaged and fresh food and 520,500 pounds of turkey to area families in need. At this year's Harvest Feast, the Redskins Charitable Foundation distributed roughly 90,000 pounds of packaged food and fresh produce and 30,000 pounds of turkey. The team worked with the Prince George's County Department of Social Services (PGCDSS), which determined eligibility for participation in the Harvest Feast food distribution program.
"This is our 15th year and it's an incredible partnership, not only with Prince George's County Social Services, but with the incredible sponsors that help us make that happen," said Jane Rodgers, Executive Director of the Charitable Foundation. "This is not something that can be done individually."
Rushern Baker, a County Executive for Prince George's County, was also present and remained extremely thankful for the Redskins' ability to embrace the community around FedExField in such a positive way before the holiday season.
"I want to say to the Redskins how important this is," Baker said. "This is not just about having football every Sunday afternoon, it's about being part of a community and giving back. For them to do this in this community, provide hope and opportunity for so many people, is just a great part."
More than 3,000 people walked through the concourse in less than three hours, accompanied by some feel-good music that encouraged dancing, if only to stay warm. For Lanier, giving back, especially after returning home the night before with a tough loss, was the perfect remedy to put things into perspective.
"Thanksgiving is a time of giving," Lanier said. "Some people are less fortunate to be able to enjoy family or just having a great meal, so to be a part of something like this, touching so many lives, it's wonderful for me, because I always wanted to be part of making a change, being a difference."
For Johnson, and many others, Harvest Feast meant she would be able to share in a holiday dinner tradition all while getting to watch her team play that night, too.
"I thank [the Redskins], I pray for them, because they didn't have to do it," she said. "They just love the people and it's beautiful."