The Los Angeles Rams teamed up with UNIFY Financial Credit Union to host a shopping spree for 100 youth served by The Salvation Army. Youth between the ages of five and 14 went shopping with Rams players as well as Rams Cheerleaders and staff members to purchase up to $200 in holiday gifts at a local Walmart. Following the shopping spree, participants had the opportunity to sit down with players and staff for a meal.
"As a player, giving back and being around is always something good for the community," said Rams cornerback Tre Tomlinson .
Tomlinson's shopper was 12-year-old Isabella Espino who felt a personal connection to the shopping experience. "My grandpa passed away and he really loved the Rams. It's like he's looking down, happy for us."
Tomlinson added he enjoyed helping his shopper pick out things she wanted for Christmas. It also provided her with the opportunity to grab items for her little brothers and mom. She was grateful that she was able to pick out items that would help her family.
Lisa Barnes, Salvation Army secretary of the LA Metro Division, said, "I think these kids are recognizing this opportunity, not just to shop but to be with the community [and] be with the Rams. What a powerful partnership...I know it's not lost on these kids what a gift today is."
Discussing the impact of the shopping spree during the holiday season, Barnes emphasized the sprees Salvation Army puts on throughout the year as she mentioned, "We know that need knows no season."
Several other children chose to buy household necessities and presents for their family. Rams nose tackle Kobie Turner said, "It gave my personal shopper the opportunity to be able to go and get his family some gifts and get them some presents and find something special for them."
In addition, the children joined in on the Nickelodeon's Let’s Draw! activity to draw and paint pictures to take home or to give to their shopping partner in appreciation of the event.
"We're really excited that as the Salvation Army we get to partner with folks in the community, with the Rams, with volunteers, with folks that are excited to be part of the solution," added Barnes.
The Salvation Army annually aids over 30 million Americans in overcoming poverty, addiction, and economic hardship through an array of social services. By providing food for the hungry, emergency relief for disaster survivors, rehabilitation for individuals battling drug and alcohol abuse, and clothing and shelter for those in need, The Salvation Army is making a significant impact at its 7,000 centers of operation across the country. In 2021, The Salvation Army was ranked No. 2 on The Chronicle of Philanthropy's list of "America's Favorite Charities."
These efforts are in continuation of the team's five-week 'Season of Giving' campaign, between November 21 and December 20, to give back to the Los Angeles community. Since 2018, Rams players, cheerleaders, mascot Rampage, and front office staff have participated in annual Community Blitz days of service that have helped to address food insecurity and provide gifts to those in need.
For more information about the Rams' community outreach efforts, visit www.therams.com/community.