Mario spreads Christmas cheer


"It's not about getting, it's about giving," said third grader Jerome as he scoured the Toys R Us store making sure to pick out perfect gifts for his family and friends.

Jerome was just one of 12 children who had the once in a lifetime opportunity to go Christmas shopping with Bills defensive end Mario Williams. The children (chosen by the United Way Closing the Gap program) were each provided with a $200.00 gift card to purchase whatever they wanted at Toys R Us.

"It's a great opportunity to come out and give back and be around kids putting a smile on their face," said Bills defensive end Mario Williams. "That's what it's about."

Williams wasn't alone. His Bills teammates Alex Carrington, Spencer Johnson and Marcell Dareus came out to show support- enjoying the spirit of Christmas. The players shopped with each of the kids-helping them pick out perfect gifts. They looked up and down the aisles-choosing Christmas favorites from E-Z Bake Ovens- to toy trucks, bikes and more.

"My favorite part about Christmas is getting gifts for the kids," said Bills defensive tackle Marcell Dareus. "I like to watch their faces light up."

"It's great for these guys to come out," said Mario. "I am grateful for their support."

The children weren't just buying for themselves. Each of the kids made sure to buy for others, gathering presents for sisters, brothers, cousins and more.

"I bought one present for my little sister, another for my cousin, a sled for my brothers and a football for me," said one of the excited children.

Mario was impressed with the lack of selfishness that the children showed.

"It starts when you're young, and for these kids to look for things for their brother or their sister-that is very important."

Dareus was also impressed with the children's thoughtfulness-as it sparked a memory of a young boy who once was the same way.

"Thinking of others first is big," said Dareus. "It means a lot, and shows how much they care about each other. Seeing that is me all over again."

It may have seemed that the evening had come to a close-as the children wheeled their full carts to the checkout ending the perfect night of shopping.

The surprises weren't over. Mario and his teammates huddled the kids up-and told them they have 94 seconds to choose one more gift-anything they want in the store! The children raced down the aisles-choosing the gifts they had passed by.

They came back with doll houses, basketball hoops, electronics and more. Mario wanted to give the kids a part of the number 94.

"I gave them 94 seconds to choose something else-an extra surprise," said Williams.

The appreciative and giving children hugged their toys and thanked Mario. Smiles and laughter filled the room-reminding everyone what Christmas is all about.

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