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The Children’s Holiday Party: a Patriots tradition

The New England Patriots Foundation and The Salvation Army of Massachusetts hosted their annual Children’s Holiday Party in December. The Christmas–styled event welcomed as many as 200 children to Gillette Stadium for an afternoon of food, presents, autographs, and selfies with players from the NFL football team, its cheerleaders, and Patriot Pat, the team’s mascot (dressed as Rudolph the red–nosed reindeer.)

“When the Kraft family purchased the New England Patriots in 1994, they were quick to establish activities that would give back to the community during the holidays,” explained Donna Spigarolo, director of community relations for the team. “For this event, they reached out directly to The Salvation Army.”

The Christmas party attracts children from local corps (Salvation Army churches), as well as from other local charities supported by the New England Patriots Foundation.

Patriots players and cheerleaders served pizza, cookies, and the Giffords new ice cream flavor, “Dough Your Job,” a play on Patriots coach Bill Bellichik’s iconic saying, “Do Your Job.”

After dinner, children participated in the Wrap-a-Pat competition. Players and cheerleaders raced to see who could be adorned in the most tinsel, wrapping paper, and Christmas Tree ornaments.

Josh Kraft, president of the New England Patriots Foundation and son of team owner Robert Kraft, said that Christmas is always the perfect time for the team to promote love and unity among the New England community.

“We could not do it without our players and cheerleaders. And we certainly could not do it without The Salvation Army,” said Kraft.“The Kraft family has always led by example, and not just in giving money. They roll up their sleeves and put in the work of giving back to the community,” said Spigarolo.

She also noted how the Christmas party, now in its 26thyear, is actually older than some of the Patriots players that come to the party, with the incoming rookie class only being 22 years old.“But it’s those young players who jump at the opportunity to be part of events like this,” said Spigarolo. “Those guys, fresh out of college, know all about volunteering and giving back to the community. It’s second–nature to them because they did it in school too.”

The evening ended with Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus making an appearance to wish everyone a merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

by Hugo Bravo

Photos Courtesy of the New England Patriots/Eric J. Adler.

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