Candy canes stood 10 feet tall in the home locker room at FedExField. Chocolate bars bigger than any Redskins linemen rested against the walls, and peppermints the size of basketballs accompanied them.
A red, wooden sleigh rested on a bed of faux snow. A real-life Santa Claus sat inside and held his ample belly.
The Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation teamed up with the U.S. Marine Corps and Toys For Tots to transform the team’s locker room into Santa’s Workshop Tuesday morning in Landover, Md.
Some of the decorations required an active imagination, but more than 1,100 toys were all real.
For five hours, a stream of underprivileged children from 21 elementary schools and charitable organizations paraded across the burgundy carpet and took their pick of playthings from tables lining the perimeter of the Skins Santa Shoppe.
The boys rushed for Hot Wheels, Legos and footballs. The girls grabbed a plethora of pink plastic, hugging Barbies and stuffed animals.
Young students tugged on their teachers’ sleeves, eager to show off their new prized possessions. Beaming smiles were ubiquitous.
“These gifts to these kids are everything,” cornerback
Pro Football Hall-Of-Famer Darrell Green passed out high fives, and two Redskins cheerleaders acted as Santa’s helpers.
Morris, who admitted he’s still a big kid at heart, took a liking to a plastic Tyrannosaurus Rex but was happy to see it leave in the hands of a child.
While the running back signed footballs and toys, he told kids to practice signing their own autographs. Someone might want one someday.
“You can kind of do whatever you want do,” Morris said he told the kids. “You can be a business owner. You can be a doctor, whatever you want to be.”
Growing up with six brothers in Pensacola, Fla., Morris said he used to benefit from the charity of others around the holidays. His past reminds him to “impart hope” into the children.
“Your parents can tell you and tell you, but if you take somebody who’s famous, or a celebrity in a sense, and they tell you something, it just sticks with you more.”
Mrs. Tanya Snyder, wife of Redskins owner Daniel M. Snyder, attended the event and said she was inspired to get the Redskins involved in the cause after hearing stories of times around the holidays from Morris and other players.
“It makes a difference in all our lives,” Snyder said. “It’s a really special day.”
In addition to the Redskins representatives, members of the U.S. Marine Corps distributed toys in immaculate dress uniforms.
Gunnery Sgt. Dana Charter crouched low and held a toy keyboard for a young girl in a pink jacket decorated with hearts. The Marine and the girl each smiled at the sounds as she hit key after key.
“For me, it’s about making kids smile. It really is,” Charter said. “I love being able to sit there and do something that’s going to put a smile on a kids face.
“Every child deserves that smile.”