The Baltimore Ravens and their fans are going through a tough season. Things are not going the way anyone thought they would. The team is on the way to their first losing season in eight years under head coach John Harbaugh.
One of the lowest points of the season was when wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. went down with a torn achilles injury that cost him the rest of the season. However, the injury didn’t stop the veteran wide receiver from making his way back to Baltimore to host the 11th annual youth shopping spree at Target in Owings Mills. It was Smith’s second time hosting the event.
The experience benefited both Smith Sr. and the kids. He was the beneficiary of a similar initiative when he was a youngster growing up in Los Angeles. That experience makes him feel that it was his duty to give back to the community in a similar way. It warms his heart to be able to put smiles on the faces of the kids during the holiday season.
“I found out when I was older that I was an Angel Tree kid, so I make sure that around these holidays we intentionally go and give back.” Smith said.
The event was a treat to the 60 kids from the Baltimore area. They had a pizza party and took part in a $200 shopping spree. Members of the Ravens including Justin Forsett; Lawrence Guy; Kendrick Lewis; Justin Tucker; and Marshall Yanda helped the kids keep track of their budget as they walked the aisles at Target.
Some of the kids went over their limit, but in true Ravens fashion, some of the players helped to cover the tab for their kids who went over their gift card amount. The kids also got a gift bag that included Ravens memorabilia. OYO Sports provided each of the kids with exclusive Ravens figurines and end zone sets.
Smith Sr. made sure that the kids didn’t only think of themselves when using the gift card, he encouraged them to take advantage of the opportunity to buy something for a family member as well.
“It’s an opportunity for them to be selfless and not just think about all the stuff they can get [for themselves],” Smith said. “We wanted to give them an opportunity to shop and encourage them to think of what they could do for someone else. We had one kid who wanted to get a watch for his grandmother. ”
The Achilles injury was not going to be a reason to keep Smith Sr. from hosting the shopping spree. Earlier in the week, he flew to Baltimore from his home in Charlotte where he was recovering. He was able to make his way around the store with the assistance of a scooter.
Justin Forsett was also present and helped out despite having his arm in a cast. Last year, Jimmy Smith was recovering from foot surgery, but he was at the event on a riding cart as he took the kids on a shopping spree. It is clear that giving back to the community is of utmost importance to the Ravens.
This year, Steve Smith Sr. is the Ravens nominee for the “Walter Payton Man of the Year” award.
It was clear to see that Smith Sr. was genuinely happy to take part in this event. He has also conducted a variety of other community events in the Baltimore area through his foundation, the Steve Smith Foundation, which is based in Charlotte, North Carolina. His community spirit along with his blue-collar playing style has endeared him to Ravens fans as one of their all-time favorites.