On Saturday morning, over 120 children from the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Washington (BGCGW) gathered at ESPN Zone for a special holiday treat from the Washington Nationals.
John Lannan, Justin Maxwell and the one and only Screech met the children for the Nationals 4th annual holiday party with BGCGW. Lannan and Maxwell distributed gifts and Screech dolls, signed autographs, mingled and answered baseball questions and played video games with the children.
"The Nationals give our kids hope," said Jim Almond, Vice President of Branch Operations for the BGCGW.
"A lot of our kids want to be athletes. They look at [Justin and John] and they say that's achievable. Most of our kids don't have an opportunity to come to ESPN Zone. They definitely don't have an opportunity to get the cards to play all of the games."
As always, ESPN Zone provided a generous spread of food and game cards for each child while U Street Parking donated parking spots for the event.
"I love doing this stuff around this time of the year," said Lannan. "These kids are so happy to be here, to eat some good food, get some presents and play some video games. It's my second year doing it, so I came back because I had a good time."
Justin Maxwell brought his own son, Jaiden, and mentioned that he and his wife Loren are expecting a baby girl in April so this holiday season is extra special to their family.
"Personally, that they even thought of me to come out, from the Boys and Girls Club, it's kind of nice," said Maxwell.
"I always remember how much I enjoyed the holidays and to see it from a different perspective -- to see all the smiles on their faces, it's really rewarding."
Indeed you could see it on their faces as they bounced around enjoying lunch, opening their presents, interacting with Screech, seeking autographs and playing video games.
"It means worlds to them. Every year when it gets around this time the kids start to ask, 'Are we doing the thing with the Nationals at ESPN Zone again,'" said Almond.
"This really kicks off the holiday season for the kids. They get a present and it's just a good start for them. A lot of them come from environments where this is a huge step up for them and the Nationals make that possible."
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