INDIANAPOLIS—Smiles, a few screams of surprise and joy. Even a few cheers crept their way down cheeks.
These are the emotions that a few charitable donations, some insightful volunteers, and some major support from a few past and current pro athletes can produce. Its what they did Tuesday night at Shortridge Magnet School on Indianapolis' North Side.
"I am a product of the inner city," said former Colts offensive tackle Tarik Glenn-and christmas party for needy families is apart of his major project.
This party-which gives gifts to needy families at different Indianapolis Public Schools-is in its sixth year being run by the D.R.E.A.M Alive foundation, which was started by Glenn and his wife in 2001. Families arrived at the North Meridian Street school and were treated to dinner and music and their big surprise at the end.
While the people's faces and reactions are important to Glenn, there is another fact that also stands out: The number of families opening up presents.
"When we started it up we thought we would just service the Fall Creek area of the community," said Glenn. "Now, not only are we at Shortridge High School we're at John Marshall as well and Arlington High School. These are multiple communities that our families are coming from."
Thirty of them took home presents on Tuesday night, one of the highest for the event's history, and Glenn hopes this trend continues for the D.R.E.A.M. Alive efforts. In fact, he has set pretty lofty goals for his organization, who along with holding the christmas party also helped to create after school programs and fundraisers to aid Indianapolis' inner city schools.
"Our goal now is to really be able to touch every IPS school in the city, and IPS desperately needs support from the community," said Glenn. "D.R.E.A.M Alive, though what we do, want to be able to create a vehicle to get people in the community involved."
He already hooked in a collection of Indianapolis Colts to help out on Tuesday, among them Jeff Saturday, Ryan Diem, Jamey Richard and Tony Ugoh, who each helped pass out presents and meet-and-greet with the families.
"I was overwhelmed," said Indianapolis resident Mary Walton, whose family was one of those receiving gifts on Tuesday. "I didn't expect all the things that they gave us and all the love that they shared."
For Glenn looking forward, that's all that matters.
"Its a way for the community to build relationships," said Glenn of his organization's goal heading forward. "Whenever we see a part of our city that is in need, I think there should be ways-if you desire to come along side and help support-there should be a vehicle to connect you, and you should be able to make an impact."