On Wednesday during the Jets' bye week, tackle Damien Woody and his wife, Nicole, were taking time out from some rare in-season peace and quiet to give back to the community.
At the John F. Kennedy School in Newark, N.J., a Title 1 special needs school that educates 140 students from the ages of 12 to 21, Woody helped donate $1,000 worth of school supplies. With the help of Office Max, the Woodys presented binders, writing utensils and a variety of school essentials along with a brand new desk chair to JFK teacher Petrine Hughes.
"It's a great experience, anytime you can help a school out in a situation like this," Damien said. "Just being around the kids, I wouldn't have gotten where I am today without someone helping me. It's just an opportunity to give back to the community."
Damien and Nicole came into the school to an incredible reaction and gave some kind words to kids who looked up to them in awe. The Woodys have six children of their own, so it was an honor for them to be able to reach out to children and teenagers who could use a helping hand.
"That's sort of just who we are," Nicole said. "We love to give back, we love to be a part of the community. We love being here with the Jets because we love New Jersey, we love the people here, the community, the sense of community and the pride that people take in their community."
Nicole got a little choked up as she addressed the students, showing just how much she cares about the youth and about making a positive impact on their future. The Woodys left an impression on more than just the kids, however. The joy on Hughes' face was readily apparent and she was so enthusiastic after receiving the supplies that will benefit her classroom.
The greatest part of the day, she said, was "Just for somebody to remember our students. We find that's the main thing with our students. People tend to forget our students are here because of their disabilities. We want the world to know that they're the greatest kids in the world. They give us something every day."
The event on Wednesday was part of a larger project nationwide involving the school advocacy campaign called "A Day Made Better," which helped donate a total of $1 million to 100,000 schools throughout the United States. In addition to the supplies that the students will use, Hughes received a printer and a digital camera to help document all that her students achieve. It's hard to put anything past her, but on Wednesday the Woodys were able to completely surprise Hughes with their gift.
"From my understanding she's a sly devil," Damien Woody said. "She doesn't get surprised that often so for us to be able to do this today was pretty good. It's a situation where you can help somebody, a person that donates their time and money to help a cause, and for us to be able to give back and donate supplies to the school, that's always a great feeling."
The Woodys were mobbed with support from the students and took pictures with them along with the teachers and administrators. During that time, Damien and Nicole got to chat with the students and learn about some of the goings-on around JFK. In addition, a little friendly banter among the students helped Damien remember that in only a matter of days, he'll be back on the practice field in preparation for the Jets' Week 8 showdown with the Green Bay Packers at New Meadowlands Stadium.
"We got a chance to interact," Damien said. "There are some Giants fans here so there's a little bit of back-and-forth talk between the students, which is a good thing. Football is 24/7 but it was great to interact with the kids and they really appreciated me coming out here."