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'Tis The Season Players Enjoy Giving Back


Packers players read stories to children gathered around at the fifth annual "Families of Children with Cancer Christmas Party."

Green Bay Packers players are involved in community events throughout the year, but the holidays are an especially important time to give back to the community when they can.

Several holiday events this season have featured Packers players and/or their support, with perhaps one of the largest the fifth annual "Families of Children with Cancer Christmas Party" last week.

More than a dozen players turned out at St. Mark's Lutheran Church in De Pere to play games, sing carols and enjoy pizza and ice cream with the kids, who for one day like this get to cast aside their day-to-day health concerns and simply hang out with players from their favorite team.

"This will bring you back down to earth real fast," cornerback Patrick Dendy said. "It's very humbling, but it's a lot of fun.

"I did this last year, and there was no way I'd miss it this year. Like I said it's a very humbling experience, and you get a chance to learn a lot from these kids."

Linebacker Abdul Hodge was getting a lesson in checkers from one girl. As a rookie, Hodge had heard about the event and been looking forward to participating.

"This is no effort. This all comes from the heart, just to come out here and be a part of it," Hodge said. "It's a great thing."

Some players, who because of their football schedule aren't always able to spend time with their own families around the holidays, appreciate the true family atmosphere of the event.

"It means a lot," rookie defensive end Jason Hunter said. "You just see how happy everybody is. This lets you know how close the Packers are and the city is. It feels good to hang around with your teammates, with everybody having fun and laughing."

Other holiday-related events have included Packers players contributing to the Salvation Army's Red Kettle campaign by ringing bells at kettle locations, an annual event for many players. Daryn Colledge, Jason Spitz, Bubba Franks, and the receiving trio of Donald Driver, Greg Jennings and Ruvell Martin, among others, have chatted with fans and exchanged autographs for a red kettle donation at Bay Park Square Mall over the past couple of weeks. Packers President/COO John Jones and his wife Cindy took part in bell-ringing at a local Piggly Wiggly.

In addition, Mark Tauscher gave tickets to the Dec. 17 home game against Detroit to a group of a dozen children participating in his TRIFECTA Foundation, a non-profit organization benefiting literacy and education in Wisconsin.

Another ongoing effort has been supporting the Salvation Army's Adopt-a-Family program through the Packers Women's Association.

{sportsad300}Center Scott Wells and his wife Julie have adopted a family each of the three years Wells has played for the Packers and gone shopping to purchase home necessities as well as gifts for a family in need.

"You buy everything from laundry detergent to toilet paper to toys," Wells said. "A lot of these families are fans that can't afford to come to the games, but they're still fans of us. It's very important because this community does so much for us as an organization for us to give back to those in need."

Wells can appreciate the stress that comes with the holidays, particularly for families struggling financially.

"I know growing up we didn't have a lot of money, so I understand that completely," he said. "It's tough during the holidays when you're broke and kids want things that friends are getting, and you can't provide even the necessities. It's a good feeling to be able to give back."

Stephen Foshee of contributed to this report.

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