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LANDOVER — On Friday afternoon, the Washington Football Charitable Organization and dozens of families gathered for the team’s 7th Annual Back to School Fair at FedExField.
Along with the Washington Football Charitable Organization, multiple Washington Football alums were on hand to greet families and assist the 1,000 children between the ages of 6-11 (first grade through fifth grade) as they shop for new backpacks and supplies for the upcoming school year.
In attendance to help kids prepare for school were nine former Washington players, including Fred Smoot, Dion Foxx, Tim Hightower, Ken Harvey, Rocky McIntosh, Fred Davis, Logan Paulsen, Will Montgomery, and Joshua Morgan.
“It’s life,” said Smoot, who helped out with delivering the backpacks. “Sports is a game, but the game of life is played by all of us, and that’s something where we’re all on the same wavelength.”
Plenty of children and their parents and guardians lined up to receive books, book bags, uniform polos, equipment play packs, and various school supplies.
“It’s awesome,” said Davis. “I just remember being a young kid, and not being that fortunate, not being able to have a lot of school supplies sometimes. Just to see what they’re doing with the book bag drives, getting their haircuts, dental, a lot of different things.”
The team’s event has been around since 2015 and has provided nearly 4,000 new backpacks, school supply kits, and additional resources to students across the region.
“It’s a good thing for the community,” said Foxx. “It’s about paying it forward and giving back, so to see the kids’ smiles on their faces as I work with great volunteers is a great feeling.”
The following sponsors for the event included Safeway, theCUT, Heart of America, Good Sports, Build-a-Bear Workshop, UWNCA, PepsiCo, TeamSmile, Prevention of Blindness, Papa John’s, and more.
“It’s fantastic to have an opportunity to give them the materials and equipment that they’ll need for the year to help them academically,” said Paulsen.
The booth for theCUT had dozens of kids sitting in chairs and getting their haircuts, as Hightower, current director of WFT Alumni Relations, also participated in the haircuts.
“To be able to connect with the community, that’s why you have a venue like this,” said Hightower. “That’s why you have a team to connect, not just come out and watch football games, but being able to connect with the community.”
Harvey helped out with the Book Nook booth for Heart of America, where he handed out books to young schoolchildren and posed for pictures.
“I help out when I can,” said Harvey. “It’s cool being an alumni; it’s cool that somebody wants you to do something. As an alumni player, once you stop playing, it’s easier to get forgotten, so I’m just happy to be here.”
The Prevention of Blindness booth had children getting vision exams and pairs of eyeglasses at the end.
“I’m grateful to be invited,” said McIntosh. “It’s an awesome experience to see the walkways packed with kids and parents. Everybody has to remember sizes, and I always forget my kids’ sizes every now and then because they grow so fast.”
Other fun activities included throwing and kicking footballs, running drills, raffles, caricatures, and music courtesy of two DJs on opposite sides of the Club Level at FedExField.
“My wife is in education,” said Montgomery. “So is my mother and my mother-in-law, so it feels good to give back, especially since we’re so close to the family.”
Photos by Michael R. Smith/The Sports Pulse