For many reasons, the holiday season is a truly special time of year—especially in Western New York. It's a time for reflection, giving thanks and enjoying the company of family and friends. It's also a time when snow is welcomed—it's even preferred! But most importantly, it's a wonderful time to spread joy and give back to those around you. In Buffalo, the City of Good Neighbors, it's these moments that define the holidays. This year, at the Buffalo Bills annual Toyota Rookie Club holiday party for children, there was certainly no shortage of holiday spirit.
The Bills Toyota Rookie Club hosted over 100 children from 13 various community organizations for the annual Holiday Party for Children. Guests met Santa, visited with Bills players and received a bag full of presents.
Held on Tuesday, Dec. 6 in the Toyota Van Miller Club at New Era Field, 102 children from 13 local organizations attended the event. As guests from the American Heart Association, Aspire, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Erie County, Boys & Girls Club of Buffalo, Northwest Buffalo Community Center, P.U.N.T Foundation, Salvation Army, B.P.S. No. 84, Stone's Buddies, TAPS, United Way of Buffalo & Erie County, Veterans One Stop Center and WNY Heroes arrived to the winter-wonderland themed extravaganza, they were instantly awestricken. From festive lights, music and movies, to photo opportunities with Santa Claus and his real life reindeer, this party had it all!
Beaming with smiles, the children could hardly contain their excitement as they got to meet some of their hometown heroes. Present at the party was QB Cardale Jones, WR Ed Eagan, WR Kolby Listenbee, CB Kevon Seymour, RB Jonathan Williams, LB Bryson Albright, LB Reggie Ragland, LS Reid Ferguson, DT Adolphus Washington, K Dan Carpenter, QB Tyrod Taylor, P Colton Schmidt, WR Walter Powell, LS Garrison Sanborn, C Eric Wood, C Ryan Groy, T Jordan Mills, and TE Blake Annen.
One by one the players introduced themselves to the adoring crowd and shared a fun fact about their favorite holiday gifts growing up. Let's just say that what happened next exceeded expectations. Behind the players sat a row of holiday gift sacks. Made special for the children, each sack had a child's name on it and was filled with presents unique to his or her wish list. As their names were called, the youngsters quickly made their way to the front of the room to receive their gifts.
For the Bills players, the special moment proved priceless.
"For us to be able to give back to them and see the looks on their faces, it was definitely priceless…it's something that I'm definitely going to do every year," said Adolphus Washington.
Just when the guests thought that the evening couldn't get any better, the Bills had one last surprise in store for a handful of children who requested a bicycle on their wish lists. Wide-eyed with amazement, the kids watched as Bills players came riding out to deliver their brand new bikes.
"It was awesome," said Ryan Groy. "Everyone is running around smiling, ripping presents open and it's just a great experience. I hopped on a bike in the back and came out…it was just pure happiness. They're all a bunch of great kids. For them to have a great holiday season is important and I'm glad they were able to experience it. It was definitely a fun experience for us too."