Jets wide receiver Chris Davis summed it all up in one simple sentence on Tuesday night inside the Toys"R"Us in Carle Place, N.Y.
"Don't stop, let's shop!" Davis advised his group of five children from Generation Jets Academy, while pushing and pulling two full shopping carts at once.
Davis, along with defensive backs Eric Smith and Drew Coleman and quarterback Brett Ratliff, were used as personal shopping chaperones while defensive tackle Sione Pouha and linebacker Brad Kassell donated a total of $6,000 to 30 children — 25 who are students of Generation Jets Academy and five who have lost a parent while defending America overseas.
"It's all about the kids," said Pouha, who personally donated $5,000. "I know some kids come from different circumstances, but when it comes to the end of the day, it's all about them regardless of their backgrounds and situations."
"It doesn't matter where this money comes from," he added. "As long as it's there and goes straight to them, which it did, and makes them smile."
The New York Jets came to the rescue just in time for the holidays for these 30 lucky young Jets fans, who each received a $200 shopping spree and a personal Jets shopping chaperone.
"The children are so excited. Some of these children definitely would not be able to have this kind of Christmas that they're going to have, so this is going to make all the difference with them," said program supervisor Patricia Thompson. "It's just that the majority of their parents don't have money to put into a lot of toys, so for them to come in and be able to pick anything they want is just like a fantasy.
"How many children have the chance to get a debit card with $200 on it and buy anything they want without mom saying, 'No, you don't need this. No, you can't get that.' "
With the help of the players, boys and girls filled up carts with such items as dolls, wrestling figurines, video games and musical instruments.
"One of the things I enjoy about this is that it reminds me of when I was a little kid," Pouha said. "I remember walking through the stores like this and stuff like that so it brings back some great memories."
Pouha, now a 28-year-old husband and father of two boys, took advantage of the special time to teach one of his sons the true meaning of the holidays.
"This year is special because I was able to explain this to my son, who I brought here with me," he said. "I taught him a little more about the meaning of Christmas and the holidays; how it's more about giving than receiving. And he's just old enough now to understand that, so it's great."
The students selected were part of academy's incentive program based on attendance, performance, behavior and school work.
"These children were the best-behaved of our program," Thompson explained. "For them and even for me as their program supervisor, it's a dream come true.
"The players were excellent," she added. "It's like a double treat, because the children would have been happy to just come meet you guys. But to have them shopping with them. They've been real patient with our kids too, especially with my girls — you know how women are when it comes to shopping!"
One of those patient players was Kassell, who is the proud father of two adorable girls. Fittingly, the linebacker partnered with a group of female students who were quite the shopaholics.
"These girls are a little older than my girls, so they go after the pricy stuff like electronics more," explained Kassell as he leaned over an overflowing shopping cart. "I see the Barbies and baby dolls and baby strollers and I'm into all that. I'm just dreading when my girls get a little older and get into these expensive electronics."
"But it's great because everybody should be able to celebrate the holidays. So it's good all around."
"The kids are on such a high – I'm on a high just watching them," said Thompson as the last toys were rung up. "I've seen some of them open up that I've never seen open up like this or even feel this excited about anything. The children will never, ever forget this."
Since its inception in 2002, Generation Jets Academy's primary goal is to provide elementary school students with enjoyable learning experiences that enhance their literacy, math skills, creativity, community awareness and self-esteem. The program provides students with personalized attention from caring and creative teachers, and a 50 percent increase in learning time each day. Generation Jets Academy is operated by the Gary Klinsky Children's Centers of the Brooklyn Bureau of Community Service and is located at the Ethan Allen School (P.S. 306) in East New York, Brooklyn.
Programs funded by the New York Jets Foundation touch the lives of countless young men and women in the tristate area. Realogy Corporation, a premier global provider of real estate and relocation services, and its subsidiary companies Burgdorff Realtors ERA and Cartus, are title sponsors for all of the Jets' community relations programs. Over the past seven years, the Jets and their charitable foundation have donated or contributed more than seven million dollars to promote youth health, fitness and education, particularly in disadvantaged communities.