OXON HILL – For those who have gained so much through the love of a game, the chance to give back is not only inspirational to the players, but life changing for the community. This weekend the Washington Redskins gave back to Prince George’s County in ways both big and small. On Oct. 24, more […]
OXON HILL – For those who have gained so much through the love of a game, the chance to give back is not only inspirational to the players, but life changing for the community.
This weekend the Washington Redskins gave back to Prince George’s County in ways both big and small.
On Oct. 24, more than 200 volunteers from the Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation, the Bender Foundation, Prince George’s County Social Innovation Fund, organizers from KaBOOM!, as well as members of the community joined forces to build a new playground at the Southern Market Place in Oxon Hill. The design of the new playground was based on children’s drawings created during a special design event in August.
Project Manager Katie Applebaum said before the organizations teamed up to build the playground, children in the nearby area did not have a “safe place to play.” The new playground will serve more than 1,800 kids in Oxon Hill.
“This event is important because we have some amazing partners who are joining KaBOOM! to build a playground for the Oxon Hill community,” she said. “We are building a playground, but in addition to the playground we are building a bunch of enhancement projects. That includes seven planter trellis benches, four planter boxes, four butcher black benches, and a double shade structure.”
KaBOOM! is a national non-profit organization dedicated to building playgrounds since 1996. This is their 2,706 build, and with its partners, has built, improved and opened nearly 16,300 playgrounds, engaged more than one million volunteers, and served 8.1 million kids.
Jane Rodgers, executive director of Washington Redskins Charitable foundations, said the charity felt the playground was a great opportunity to give back to the community.
“Especially to a community like this where there is significant need for play spaces for young people. It is even more important to be able to create a space where kids can go be safe, have fun and be kids,” Rodgers said.
The playground is the third for the Redskins’ foundation. The build was part of the 2015 Redskins Alumni Homecoming weekend and former Redskins players, coaches and their families volunteered with the playground.
Kenny Houston, a Washington Redskins Hall of Famer was one of those volunteers, said the best part of the project is the kids will have it “forever.”
“It means more to us because as you get older you understand what life is all about and it gives us a chance to give back. If you look around, these guys have not stopped and not thought about any thing other than getting this playground built,” he said
Recent Redskins’ alum London Fletcher said he remembers how much his childhood playgrounds meant to him.
“This hits home for me because I grew up in a city just like this,” Fletcher said. “I was on a playground everyday and we didn’t have nearly as much stuff as they will have.”
On Sunday, the Redskins continued the giving streak by donating 200 tickets to the Prince George’s County Fire/ EMS department to the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Washington Redskins President Bruce Allen said the team and administration is “always looking for ways to honor individuals that sacrifice for the greater good.”
“Providing the Prince George’s County Fire Department with tickets to this Sunday’s game at FedEx Field is the least we can do for the daily sacrifices they make for our community,” he said.
The 200 ticket recipients had the chance to watch the game from the 200’s section and even had a few seconds of fame on the Jumbotron.
Fire Lt. Nathan Davies, who heads the cadet program at Charles H. Flowers High School, said he found out about the tickets through the fire leadership. He said some of the tickets were for the senior fire cadets.
“When I found out about it, I said ‘make it happen, and make sure they get to the game,” Davies said.
Davies brought 12 of his 20 seniors to the game. He said the cadets work tremendously hard day-in and day-out going to school, training and volunteering through the program. And, even though the game was a fun event, it was also a learning experience.
“I was excited because not only do they get the chance to experience some of the other things that we do besides going to community service events, but they have the opportunity to come out here and do something fun,” he said.
Nicholas Billings, a cadet from Flowers High School, said he grew up a Redskins fan and loves coming to the games. He usually sits in the upper deck of the stadium, so he was excited for the chance to sit a little closer.
“It means a lot. It’s really nice that they did this for us,” he said. “Its not too often I get to sit right here, you know, so close to the field and everything. It’s pretty awesome. I’ve always wanted to experience ‘the feel’ of being here in the stadium.”
Davis said he appreciated the tickets and was touched by the recognition for the fire department.
“It’s priceless,” he said. “We’re ordinary people that do extraordinary things everyday and for them to take the time out to recognize that – its definitely a privilege and definitely something that we’ll all remember for a long time.”