There was Christmas music, there were Santa hats, and there was excitement in the air at Hawthorne Elementary in Indianapolis on Tuesday afternoon, as the Colts participated in the 12th annual Cold Feet, Warm Shoes and Hats event.
“We have 75 LIDS volunteers here today along with the Colts players,” said Bailee Reynolds, manager of the LIDS Foundation. “It’s our favorite event. Each kid here at Hawthorne Elementary is getting a new pair of shoes, a new hat, and a cool swag bag from the Colts.”
There was even an IndyCar driver, Ed Carpenter, who got involved in the event a few years ago and has become more involved as a LIDS Foundation board member.
“My wife and I, Heather, we have three kids that are also in the public school system and there’s so much need in all the public schools across the city,” said Carpenter. “In this school, 80 percent of the kids are on free or reduced lunch. So for them to be able to walk out of here with a brand new pair of shoes from Genesco and New Balance and getting an awesome selection of brand new nice hats you could go buy in a LIDS store – Colts, IU, Purdue – it’s amazing.”
For Gregory Butler, principal of Hawthorne Elementary, it was life full circle.
“This was actually my elementary school when I was a kid. And I actually taught here for 10 years after I went to Purdue,” he said. “God keeps bringing me back here every time I try to leave. So, when I look at these kids, I honestly see me. And I don’t just see me, I see all the faces of the teachers who helped me.”
On Tuesday, it was teachers, a team of LIDS volunteers, Colts players, cheerleaders, and Blue helping fit the kids for shoes, pick out hats, and hand out t-shirts and bags.
A community guy himself, defensive end Kendall Langford said it always feels good to give. But giving out shoes and hats feels especially good this time of year.
“You’re giving the kids something they can really use and it’s not just a toy they’re going to play with and throw in the corner,” he said. “It’s really cool and it’s a special event. I’m glad to be a part of it.”
A veteran on the Colts defense, with two kids of his own, Langford is also a veteran when it comes to tying shoes.
“I’ve been around the block a couple of times,” he laughed.
So has cornerback Tevin Mitchel, who also has two kids of his own. When it comes to putting shoes on kids, Mitchel said patience is the key. But on Tuesday, it was all about putting smiles on their faces.
“You just always want to see a kid with the wow feeling. Like, ‘There’s people that love me,’” he said. “They don’t take anything for granted. All kids are happy to get anything.”
“It gets you in the Christmas spirit,” said tight end Mike Miller.
Safety Matthias Farley got back from New York with the team around 4:00 on Tuesday morning. But there he was spreading Christmas cheer on Tuesday afternoon.
“I can sleep the rest of the day away if I want to,” he said. “We have the rest of the day off. So, to be able to come here for a couple hours and do this, it’s awesome. The kids are all lit up about it. It’s a blessing to be able to be a part of it.”
A blessing that will go a long way for Butler’s students.
“I’m looking at our kids’ faces and I realize that for some of them, this may be Christmas,” he said. “So, how big is this that not only are they getting it, but they’re getting it from Colts players, they see their teachers out here, they see a whole bunch of people who care about them no matter what.”
And that’s a gift that keeps on giving.
“I think it sends them a message of hope. There’s always hope,” Butler said. “You never know where the next good deed will come from. But imagine what this will do for them when it’s their turn to give.”
Because passing it on is what the season of giving is all about.
Colts players Kendall Langford, Stephen Morris, Marcus Leak, Tevaun Smith, Tevin Mitchel, Andrew Williamson, Matthias Farley, Luke Rhodes, Deiontrez Mount, Deon King, Adam Redmond, Kristjan Sokoli, Jeremy Vujnovich, and Mike Miller participated in Tuesday’s event.
From school and hospital visits to youth football camps and holiday outreach, Colts players participate in a wide variety of “Community Tuesday” activities throughout the season. Colts Community Tuesdays are supported in part by CBS4.