Picture a powerful NFL lineman in a Santa Claus hat, bent over a table laughing and decorating cookies with kids. Multiply it by about a dozen players, add a hearty buffet and gifts for everyone, and you have a picture of what happens at the annual Denver Broncos Youth Christmas Party. No speeches, no fundraising. Just a fun evening for deserving kids and their families. It’s an event that simultaneously celebrates the season while honoring the successful partnership between the Broncos organization and Denver Rescue Mission.

QB Chad Kelly decorates cookies.

On Monday, Dec. 4, Christmas came early for around 200 at Denver Rescue Mission headquarters as Denver Broncos players, cheerleaders and Miles the mascot arrived to celebrate with families participating in the STAR transitional program—one that empowers them to proactively bridge the gap from homelessness to a positive, productive life. The evening began with an extensive dinner-and-dessert buffet created by Epicurean Catering, and gift bags that included Broncos blankets and grocery gift cards.

Broncos Dillon Day and Jordan Taylor (87), intent on cookie decorating.

Kids and adults alike were able to mingle, take photos and get autographs from: Chris Harris Jr., Corey Nelson, Dillon Day, Max Garcia, Riley Dixon, Chad Kelly, Dymonte Thomas, Zach Kerr, Jordan Taylor, Bradley Roby and Brendan Langley. Local TV stations recorded the event, and NFL Network was on hand with Miami Dolphins NFL Hall-of-Famer Jason Taylor to cover Chris Harris’ community service efforts. Denver Rescue Mission leadership noted that it’s a fun but meaningful event, especially since some of the players on the Denver Broncos roster may have stories similar to those of their residents.

Two girls + one Broncos football = best friends who know how to share.

The Denver Broncos work with the Denver Rescue Mission during the Broncos Tackle Hunger program in the fall and host an annual holiday party at The Crossing for families in residence there with players, cheerleaders and Miles the Mascot. Broncos staff regularly volunteer at Denver Rescue Mission locations throughout the year, and the Denver Broncos granted $150,000 to fund the Denver Broncos Youth Center at The Crossing facility. For more information about Denver Broncos in the Denver community: http://www.denverbroncos.com/community/.

Denver Broncos (front): Chris Harris Jr. and Corey Nelson; (back row, l to r): Dillon Day, Max Garcia, Riley Dixon Chad Kelly, Dymonte Thomas, Zach Kerr, Jordan Taylor, Bradley Roby and Brendan Langley

Denver Rescue Mission is changing lives in the name of Christ by meeting people at their physical and spiritual points of need with the goal of returning them to society as productive, self-sufficient citizens. The organization is committed to helping people who are experiencing homelessness and addiction in Denver change their lives. As a rescue mission, its primary goal is to see these lives transformed through personal accountability, education, spiritual development and community relationships. Thanks to the partnership of donors and volunteers, Denver Rescue Mission meets the needs of people suffering in poverty and homelessness through emergency services, rehabilitation, transitional programs and community outreach.

For working individuals and families who are experiencing homelessness, finding a safe and affordable place to live while they transition out of poverty can be a challenge. Denver Rescue Mission’s STAR Transitional Program helps people who are homeless–despite having a job–transition into a sustainable, self-sufficient life. At its largest facility, The Crossing, individuals and families are able to live in a safe and encouraging community away from the alcohol, drugs and abuse prevalent on the street and in disreputable hotels. Families and individuals develop and practice important life skills, save money, gain the tools they need to provide for their own housing, and transition into a self-sufficient lifestyle when they graduate. For more information on Denver Rescue Mission’s locations, and extensive programs and services, please visit https://www.denverrescuemission.org/.