The multiple shopping trips, the "nine shopping cart" checkouts at the register, as Ashley Moss described it, the hours and dollars and hard work, it all paid off Monday night in smiles, laughter and hugs when Richard Sherman's Blanket Coverage Foundation hosted 38 families at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center, providing gifts and a chance for kids to play on the Seahawks' practice field and interact with some of their favorite players.
"It's amazing," said Moss, Sherman's fiancé who oversees this annual event. "Every year it's just more and more of a blessing to be able to share our blessings and see this grow. It doesn't get old to see the tears, to see the joy, to see the happiness, to see the kids running around and meeting guys they look up to. It can be life-changing."
Five years ago, before Richard Sherman was Super-Bowl Champion/All-Pro/NFL Superstar Richard Sherman, he took on the more modest task of adopting a single family for the holidays for the simple reason that his parents instilled in him the idea that no matter what you had to give, it was important to share your good fortune, especially around the holidays. Sherman didn't grow up rich in terms of material possessions, but Kevin and Beverly Sherman made sure their children knew what it was to be good people.
"This is the way I was raised, this is the way I've always thought about it," Sherman said. "My parents were always open with our household bringing people in, making sure everyone had a meal, had a gift. That's what good-hearted people do, and I think world needs more of that.
"They instilled that from the beginning. They've always emphasized treating people right, showing empathy regardless of what their circumstances are. If they're homeless, down on their luck, if they were a drug addict and on the streets now, my parents would open their house to them, feed them, give them whatever they could to help them out, because they're good people. I think nowadays, people see a homeless person on the street with a sign and walk by them, kind of frown at them like they're above them. I think that's where we're losing ourselves, because nobody is above anybody. You should always try to help people, and you should hope that if you're ever in that situation, people would try to help you."
Over time, one family became several, then 25—Sherman's jersey number—but this year when they read the stories from families in need provided by the Seattle Urban Academy, Renton Area Youth and Family Services and Audubon Elementary, where Moss attended school as a child, Sherman and Moss couldn't narrow it down to 25 families, so they upped the total to 38.
Once the families are chosen, Ashley contacts them and gets both a wish list and a needs list, then she makes those nine-shopping-cart trips, buying everything from essentials like personal hygiene items and school supplies to dream gifts like Seahawks jerseys. Then on Monday Sherman played Santa, handing out gifts and posing for pictures while kids ran around the field, tossed footballs and interacted with Seahawks players and Blitz.
"It's important for everyone to understand what the holiday season is all about," Sherman said. "I think it's important to make sure that myself and my family and everybody I'm connected with is involved in giving back to people who need it, especially during Christmas, because I feel like Christmas is a time of giving, a time of love and appreciation and kindness, and I hope our event encompasses that."
And as is always the case when a Seahawks player has an event in the community, there was a lot of support from Sherman's teammates, with Cliff Avril, DeShawn Shead, Bobby Wagner, Jermaine Kearse, Doug Baldwin, and Jeron Johnson all taking part in the festivities.
"It's like family here," Sherman said. "It's not anybody feeling obligated to do anything. It's out of love and appreciation for the next guy. It's genuine, it's really organic, because guys really truly want to be helping. I want to be at Cliff's event, I want to be at Mike (Bennett)'s event, I want to be at Kam (Chancellor)'s event, Bobby wants to be at my event, I want to be at Bobby's event, because I appreciate him and everything he does."
Added Moss: "It's great. These guys aren't just teammates, they're family. Even as wives, we're family. We try to support each other in whatever way we can. I know it means the world to Richard to see them come out today."
Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman and his Blanket Coverage Foundation surprised several families with Christmas gifts at Virginia Mason Athletic Center on Monday, December 19.