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Texans trio donates 750 Thanksgiving meals


Nine days before Thanksgiving, Texans receiver Andre Johnson, linebacker DeMeco Ryans and cornerback Dunta Robinson showed their gratitude to the local community by donating 750 Thanksgiving meals to families in need.

During their "Giving Thanks With Andre, DeMeco & Dunta" event across the street from Reliant Stadium, the players packaged and distributed turkeys along with soft drinks, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans, cranberry sauce, rolls and brownies.

There to help were a few teammates, Texans Cheerleaders and TORO as well as volunteers from H-E-B and Texas Southern University. Frenchy's Chicken provided refreshments for the workers during the three-hour-long event.

Johnson, Ryans and Robinson donated the groceries through their individual foundations to families from Houston and nearby Galveston.

"We can definitely relate to this," Ryans said. "[As kids], we were in families that didn't have much. But when people came around to help, we were appreciative of the help we got from other people. It just shows how people working together can do a lot of things and can help each other."

The families receiving food were selected by agencies registered with the Houston Food Bank, according to Stephanie Belton, a former Texans employee who coordinated the event.

{QUOTE}Those agencies included the Houston Area Women's Center, the Houston Housing Authority, Sunnyside Multi-Service Center and Third Ward Multi-Service Center. Gleanings from the Harvest, a Galveston-based agency, loaded trucks with food to distribute to families in that area who were affected by Hurricane Ike.

"I think this is really important, especially having these trucks out here that are going to Galveston," Johnson said. "A lot of people down there just pretty much lost everything, and to help them have a Thanksgiving, I think it's very great. They can have a smile on their face on Thanksgiving, so I think it's going to help out a whole lot."

Johnson and Ryans hosted a similar event last year, donating groceries to 200 families prior to Thanksgiving. They approached Robinson about joining their efforts, and he was happy to join them and help provide Thanksgiving meals for more than triple the amount of families this year.

"We've become a part of Houston and a part of this community," Robinson said. "Houston has been through a lot with the storm coming through a couple of months ago, so we know for this time of the year, a lot of people are in need. And we're happy to be able to come out here and do our part."

H-E-B, which made a donation to the players' effort along with providing volunteers, was excited to be involved with the event.

"This is the season of giving, and this year the guys asked us to join in with their 'Giving Thanks with the Texans,'" H-E-B public affairs official Lacey Dalcour said. "This is a testament to truly that these players are not only leaders on the field but leaders in the community, and we are very happy to be a part of that."

Johnson said he felt that it was even more important to give this year than in years past considering the ailing national economy and the lingering effects of Hurricane Ike in the area.

"We are very fortunate to be in the situation that we're in," he said. "You wish that there weren't any needy people. You really don't like to see people in those situations but, you know, that's life. Any way somebody can help, it's great. We're just very thankful for what we have, and it's great to just bless someone else."

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