Washington Commanders' lineman Charles Leno Jr. and his wife, Jennifer, hosted a holiday party for families with a nonprofit in Arlington, Virginia, on Tuesday.
The event was held at the restaurant Medium Rare and hosted with Bridges to Independence, an Arlington-based nonprofit that provides housing assistance and other services to the community. During the event, Leno and his wife gave holiday presents to children in the nonprofit's program.
Leno said he was taught since early childhood to give. Each time a gift was given, he and his wife seemed very happy.
“I remember when we got married, we always talked about paying it forward and doing right for others because when you do right for others, good things will happen for you, and we just want to continue that,” Leno said.
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“Seeing like smiles on kids’ faces and…it’s just, it’s just amazing,” Jennifer Leno said.
The kids at the event could barely contain their joy and pleasure.
“I am having fun because it’s a great time meeting football players and also just having fun, and just meeting new people,” Taylor, age 10, said.
Commanders center Chase Roullier attended to support his teammate and autographed items for kids.
“My wife and I are here to support Charles and their nonprofit, and just help them give back to the community,” Roullier said.
Charles Leno Jr. is one of the 2022 nominees for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award, which honors a player’s commitment to philanthropy and community impact. The NFL describes the award as its most prestigious accolade.
For participants in Bridges to Independence, the Leno’s holiday treat was a warm, welcome break from a year of challenges.
“It brings us joy, to be able to do this for our lovely program participants this holiday season, and it is a celebration. We, I feel like we have all come through so much in the last two years,” Cicely Whitfield, a Bridges to Independence representative said.