Rams Rookie Ensures Happy Holidays for Area Kids

Posted Dec 19, 2012

In July, Rodney McLeod was an undrafted free agent from the University of Virginia hoping to carve out a niche for himself on the St. Louis Rams’ roster. Fast forward five months. McLeod is busy preparing for Sunday’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the fifteenth game in which he will appear during his rookie season. As McLeod has gotten more comfortable on the field, he has gained confidence in calling his own plays off of it. Just in time for the holiday season, McLeod teamed up with the Salvation Army to ensure local children would enjoy a merry Christmas.

Each year, the Salvation Army receives gift cards from Target to be used by those in need for Back to School and Christmas shopping. Children are selected by local Salvation Army units, and all kids within a family are included so that each one receives a special Christmas. After arriving at Target, the children are given a $100 gift card with two strict rules in place: they must shop for themselves and they must purchase at least one toy. The simple rules are in place so that the gift card recipients shop for items they want, without feeling the obligation to shop for friends and family as well.

That is where McLeod fit in. He worked with two kids to help pick out their perfect Christmas gifts. The first kid, a five-year old aspiring basketball player, had no problem filling his cart with a variety of toys and games. The other child, a young girl, had her eyes on a new pair of shoes. Unsure of how his fashion skills would relate to a little girl, McLeod perused the aisles with her until they found a pair of boots that fit her qualifications.

But McLeod was not finished giving back to the kids. He took time to sign autographs for those in attendance and took pictures as well. He also signed cards and other items for family members of the children present. The program had a large impact on the Rams’ safety and special teams player.

“I had a great time helping the kids shop and hopefully get a lot of things from their wish list(s),” McLeod said. “It was amazing to give back and be able to see the kids’ immediate response to their new toys and shoes.”