Redskins, Capitals and more give back during holidays

December 23, 2018

The Washington Redskins were mired in a four-game losing streak, but Josh Norman was upbeat.

The Redskins had just lost two quarterbacks to leg injuries Alex Smith, then Colt McCoy. They allowed 40 points to the New York Giants and fell far out of first place in the NFC East. The Thursday before the Redskins played the Jacksonville Jaguars (and snapped that losing streak), Norman was asked how difficult it was to stay positive when things weren’t going the team’s way.

“It’s what you have to do. You have to think highly, think positive,” Norman said. “I deal with it just by helping other people out. Did it yesterday, last night. It’s pretty cool when you can do that, give back to other people out. I think it helps out a lot.”

Norman had to be pressed for further details. The star cornerback said he spent the prior night giving blankets and socks to people suffering homelessness in downtown Washington. It wasn’t a team-sponsored activity; Norman went with his cousin and a friend.

Norman was one of several examples of Washington’s pro athletes and teams helping the less fortunate this holiday season.

“You learn something every day, something new,” Norman said. “From someone that you just coming out and handing a blanket to. You never really know. But I was down there, I met them where they was at and it was just cool to understand and be humble enough to sit there and have that conversation with them.”

The people he spent time with that night didn’t know Norman was a football player “at first,” he said.

“It was just really cool and refreshing and rejuvenating,” Norman said. “You ask me why is it I come in here and keep high spirits. Because I can do things such as that, that’s much bigger than football.”

The cornerback also used his off day last week to visit his hometown of Greenwood, South Carolina, where he surprised 20 foster children and paid for them to go on a Christmas gift shopping spree.

Norman wasn’t the only Redskin involved in charitable activity. Rookie running back Derrius Guice spent last Wednesday wearing a Santa Claus hat and beard and brought Christmas gifts to patients at Inova Children’s Hospital in Falls Church, Virginia.

The Washington Capitals also spent time with kids in the hospital last week. The team went to MedStar Georgetown University Hospital one afternoon to hang out with and make memories with its patients, both children and adults.

The players who visited the younger patients spent their time together on art projects.

“We made a really decked-out gingerbread house and lots of arts and crafts,” goaltender Pheonix Copley said. “It was just special, how much fun the kids were having. We had a lot of fun too.”

Copley remembered one young boy who was enamored with Evgeny Kuznetsov.

“Kuzy was helping him draw different guys on the team. I thought it was pretty funny,” Copley said. “The kid was having a great time and then when Kuzy had to get up (to take) a picture, the kid got a little sad. It was good to see how connected the kids get and how much they enjoy seeing the guys.”

Later in the week, forward Devante Smith-Pelly spent an afternoon distributing more than 4,000 new coats around the Washington region in partnership with the Coats for Kids Foundation.

Bradley Beal of the Washington Wizards also got in on the giving action, as he went to Ron Brown College Preparatory High School in Washington Thursday. He surprised the varsity and JV basketball teams by donating them new shoes.

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