On Monday, December 23, Rams Team Captain and Tackle ANDREW WHITWORTH teamed up with United Way of Greater Los Angeles (UWGLA) to make the holidays brighter for local children and families identified by UWGLA, who are currently battling homelessness or have recently transitioned into supportive housing.
"Homelessness is the number one issue, not only for the families here [Upward Bound House Culver City & Clifford Beers Housing], but it's an issue that affects all of us. It's the top issue in Los Angeles," said UWGLA's Managing Director of Homelessness Initiatives, Chris Ko. "Having the Rams involved is a gamechanger because it shows that our biggest stars and our biggest athletes care about our biggest issues."
Whitworth and his family distributed gifts that were featured on the wish lists of 114 children. The Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee also surprised 77 families with a $500 Albertsons/Vons/Pavilions grocery gift card and treated the families from Upward Bound House Culver City Family Shelter and Clifford Beers Housing Burlington Family and King 1101 Apartments to a catered holiday meal.
"It's extremely humbling to have an opportunity to come out and bless some families that are transitioning from homelessness into some of these shelters and housing," said Whitworth. "The chance to give out some presents to the kids and a gift to the parents shows that somebody cares about them. We're in this together and we're going to try and help them figure it out."
Before the gift distribution took place, Whitworth gave his children, twins Sarah and Drew (8), Michael (6), and Katherine (4), the opportunity to help make an impact in their community. Over the summer, the Whitworth family participated in United Way of Greater Los Angeles' HomeWalk, which sparked Whitworth's son, Michael, with the urge to ensure that people in LA County who are struggling with housing instability were able to have a special Christmas and holiday season.
"I was looking to make a difference and I gave my kids the opportunity to choose what they wanted to do, and they chose to help the homeless," said Whitworth. "We had a chance to go to the HomeWalk this past summer and that stuck with my kids. When my kids were behind it, it made it an easy decision."
The entire Whitworth family joined to help make the holiday season brighter for the families facing adversity. When the Whitworths arrived at the housing sites, smiles beamed throughout the room and the Whitworth children began leading the residents in Christmas carols.
"We wanted to do something that is not about you but to do something for other people," said Whitworth. "It's special to me and special to the families."
Also joining the holiday festivities to show his support was Rams Safety ERIC WEDDLE.
"I think to us [Weddle & Whitworth] and my family, it's really important to be a part of this night," said Whitworth. "We're excited to be able to do this and blessed to be where we are and have the opportunity to pay it forward to families across Los Angeles."