Connor Barwin and Brandon Graham visited Wesley House on Monday morning to donate coats and celebrate the holiday season ...
With the holiday season in full swing, linebackers Connor Barwin and Brandon Graham wanted to do their part and give back to the Philadelphia community. While assisting families at Wesley House Shelter on Monday morning, the two were also making a difference in the lives of people living in Detroit, a city near and dear to both of their hearts.
By donating coats made and designed by the Empowerment Plan, a non-profit based out of the Motor City, Barwin and Graham supported a company that aims to end the cycle of homelessness once and for all.
The Empowerment Plan employs homeless parents, teaching them the necessary skills to become seamstresses and create one-of-a-kind coats that can be transformed into sleeping bags at night or bags when not in use. They are also water-resistant and self-heating. The jackets they create are then distributed to others who currently do not have a place to live, free of charge.
The two Eagles players handed out 50 of these jackets to individuals living at Wesley House Shelter, hoping they will serve them well over the winter months.
"I think they're pretty cool, something I've never seen before," Graham said of the coats. "They definitely should be warm and they should help them to be able to withstand the winter time."
After the jackets were dispersed, Barwin and Graham joined Eagles Care partner Little Smiles in throwing a holiday party for the kids living at the shelter. Wesley House contains 17 rooms for families or single women and assists up to 70 people each day and 240 individuals each year.
The players and Little Smiles brought Dunkin' Donuts for breakfast and set up holiday crafts for the kids to complete throughout the morning hours. Barwin and Graham meticulously helped each child decorate foam Christmas trees and etch patterns into their scratch-art reindeer.
However, what may have been the most impactful part of the experience for these kids were the holiday gifts they received. Each child was given a bag with his or her name on it, filled with a few simple presents that meant so much more than anyone could have imagined.
Little boys ran around the room with toy trucks, while the girls played with their new stuffed animals. The pure joy in the room brought smiles onto the faces of every adult, including Barwin's and Graham's.
"Christmas is a special time for everybody and no kid should go during Christmas without some type of gift or feeling the Christmas spirit," Barwin said. "Obviously, these kids are in a different situation than the way Christmas was for me. Any way we can try to make it better for them, we're going to do that."
"It's very special, especially during this time, for people to feel good," Graham said. "That's all we're really looking for. I'm just happy that we are able to give back and do that for them."
At the end of the day, it was easy to see the true meaning of the holidays inside the walls of Wesley House Shelter. Barwin, Graham and Little Smiles gave these families something to smile about, and during this time of the year, that's all that really matters.