“Saying that my kids are fans of the Ravens are an understatement. They are so excited to be here. My little one is in his [Ravens] jersey right now and my oldest one has been taking pictures of the players all night,” said attendee *Erika P.

On Monday, November 19, The Salvation Army partnered with former Baltimore Raven’s linebacker Jameel McClain’s 53 Families Foundation to host their ninth annual Thanksgiving-style community dinner in Baltimore. More than 70 volunteers, including the 53 Families Foundation, The Salvation Army, Maryland National Guards, and soldiers from the Joint Force Headquarters Fifth Regiment Armory, supported the event.

132 families, including 314 adults and 425 kids, attended this exciting event, all of whom are recipients of The Salvation Army of Central Maryland’s Angel Tree program.

“To invite me to a place like this means the world to me because I’ve never been invited to a place where you can have fellowship with other people in the same situation as you,” said Wanda Robinson, mother of three. Wanda’s family has benefitted from the Angel Tree program for the past three years.

More than 20 former and current Baltimore Ravens players participated in the event, including Morgan Cox, Marshal Yanda, and Jacoby Jones. The players signed autographs, took pictures, and served dinner for the families. The dinner was catered by local chefs. Each family also went home with a gift bag of Thanksgiving fixings, some of which included vouchers to redeem a free turkey from The Salvation Army’s DMG Foods.

In addition to these families not having the financial resources to buy Christmas gifts for their kids, these families often do not have the means to enjoy other luxuries like a catered meal, or a ticket to a Raven’s game, which on average is $86 per person. For these families, especially the children, interacting with their home football team on a personal level at a catered event, is a once in a lifetime experience.

“I didn’t even have enough money for a stamp to mail back the RSVP card for this event,” said attendee * Erika P. “Families in need, especially families in Baltimore City, never get to attend events like this.”

*Erika is the mother of two children, ages two and twelve. In addition to receiving Christmas assistance from The Salvation Army, The Salvation Army also provided her family with 40 pounds of food, water, and hygienic products at the Feed the Children feeding distribution, this past October. This was her family’s first year attending the Thanksgiving event and she was visibly emotional to have been invited.

“I want to thank The Salvation Army for taking the time out to do all that they do for us. It meant a lot to bring my family here tonight. God sent The Salvation Army to me to help my family in our time of need,” said *Erika.

Click here to see more pictures of the event.

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