Close to 200 Newark city youth walked into a Christmas dream come true on Tuesday afternoon when Jets guard Brandon Moore and his wife Regina treated the kids at the Boys and Girls Club to one of the most exciting events of the year.
The children at the Central Ward Unit enjoyed cotton candy, air hockey, video arcade games, a rock climbing wall and so much more as Brandon and his teammates — including Drew Coleman, Jerricho Cotchery, Mike DeVito, Vladimir Ducasse, D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Vernon Gholston, Dustin Keller, Joe McKnight, Tony Richardson, Bart Scott, Matt Slauson, Brad Smith, LaDainian Tomlinson and Jamaal Westerman — played foosball, shot pool and raced cars and motorcycles with the kids. Applebee's and The Shannon Rose provided food for the event.
Even more than the games the players played with the youth, the impact they had was immeasurable. "The number of positive male role models that our teens got to interact with today was amazing," said Cynthia Banks, vice president of operations for the Boys and Girls Club. "Our teens couldn't believe they were in their presence. They were able to see that people were not afraid to come to Newark and make them feel special."
Brandon and Regina have made a concerted effort to dedicate their time and resources to Newark. "I just wanted to do something special for the kids," said Brandon. "Sometimes people forget the children in Newark, but I want them to know that there are people out here who care about them."
Santa stopped by from the North Pole and got in on the action. From candy buffets to slushes, everyone had a blast. Even the players' wives shared in on the festivities.
"The event was excellent," said Regina. "The children had the time of their life."
In an area riddled by gangs and drugs, the Christmas Carnival allowed the kids to be kids. For three hours the children were able to enjoy the spirit of Christmas.
"The kids had a fantastic time from the moment they walked through the door. They didn't want to leave, Banks said. "The kids were telling their parents they would be right back, but they never came back. They didn't want it to end."
Khaliah Simpkins, 7, couldn't believe her eyes when she walked in. "I was surprised," she said. "The Jets are my team and I didn't want it to end because it was so awesome."
Clubhouse director Shavorda Baskerville said the event was truly a blessing and that the Moores are like angels to the organization and the kids.
"There aren't words to describe these types of people," Baskerville said. "They care and are committed to having an impact and making a difference in the lives of children. They have opened their arms and hearts to embrace the children of the Central Ward Unit. They brought new energy and showed that people really care.
"The kids' faces said it all. The event was priceless."