Ravens’ Benjamin Watson ‘plays’ Secret Santa


— Twenty-five families from Building Families for Children, arrived at Walmart in Randallstown Monday, December 19, 2016, not sure what to expect. What they did know was that some sort of Christmas surprise awaited them. Moments later, it was announced that they were the recipients of a $325 Walmart gift card to help purchase Christmas gifts for their children, courtesy of Baltimore Ravens tight end Benjamin Watson.

Robin Reynolds, a foster parent, was among the many recipients who cried at the shock of the surprise. “This is a blessing,” said Reynolds. “Right now, I have two foster children, so this really helps. I have been a foster parent for 15 years, and feel that this is what God wants us to do for these kids.”

Kirsten Watson, wife of Benjamin Watson; Debbie Marini Executive Director of Building Families for Children; and Devon Johnson and Clarence Smith of Colonial Baptist Church.

Ursula V. Battle

Kirsten Watson, wife of Benjamin Watson; Debbie Marini Executive Director of Building Families for Children; and Devon Johnson and Clarence Smith of Colonial Baptist Church.

In 2008, Watson and his wife Kirsten founded One More, a public charity dedicated to spreading the love and hope of Christ to “one more soul” by meeting real needs, promoting education and providing enrichment opportunities through charitable initiatives and partnerships.

“When your children see the gifts under the tree, don’t tell them they came from me,” Watson said during Benjamin Watson’s Big BENefit. “Let them believe that you or Santa Claus gave them the gifts. Don’t mention my name at all.”

Following dinner, provided by Chick-fil-A, families were paired-up with volunteers for the Baltimore Ravens and other agencies for support with picking out gifts for their children.

Volunteers at Colonial Baptist Church kept the children entertained with movies and games while their parents and guardians shopped. Clarence Smith of Colonial Baptist Church served as the church’s liaison for the event. The Rev. Dr. Robert J. Anderson is the church’s pastor.

“Colonial Baptist Church has been blessed to have this partnership with Building Families for Children, so it was only natural that we were involved with tonight’s event,” said Smith.

Kirsten Watson stood by her husband’s side passing out gift cards.

“I just think we are called to do something,” she said. “This event is going on in four cities. We believe there is always something you can do to help one more person. We also wanted to leave the legacy of serving our kids. God always leads us to the right place, the right organization and to the right families.”

“The gift cards the families are receiving through this event won’t last, but God’s Word is everlasting,” she added. “The Bible tells us that if a person is hungry, you feed them, and if a person needs clothing, you clothe them. That’s what this event is all about.”

Debbie Marini serves as executive director of Building Families for Children. The organization’s work is focused on creating a safe, nurturing family for every child and a supportive, thriving community for every family.

“Most of the families who are here tonight are from across our programs, and stepped in our lives for us to serve,” said Marini. “We wanted them to be blessed and to hear the Gospel message. We were praying for a sports figure to help us to get the word out about vulnerable families, and God sent us Benjamin Watson. It was so touching to see the families when they heard the news. They did not know what to expect tonight, but they came out on faith. To see their smiling faces was wonderful.”

Brian Simons was among the smiling faces.

“I was really surprised,” said Simons. “I wasn’t expecting this at all. I am really grateful, because without the gift card, I wouldn’t have been able to purchase these things— especially the bike.”

Ratisha Sweatt, who is employed by the Department of Social Services, assisted Simons with his shopping.

“Brian isn’t on my caseload, but I was asked to bring him. It was really worth the drive, because this evening has been a real blessing.”