Arianna Washington rides around the Toys R' Us in Monroe during the Big Whit 77 Foundation Christmas shopping spree on Thursday in Monroe.
Rebel alumni join Big Whit 77 Foundation to spread Christmas cheer
West Monroe High School alum and current Los Angeles Rams offensive lineman Andrew Whitworth has never forgotten to give back to the community that built him into the successful man on and off the field he is today.
Through the Big Whit 77 Foundation, Whitworth and wife Melissa have given thousands of dollars in community charities, scholarships and more to the Ouachita Parish and Lincoln Parish-area.
On Thursday, Foundation President Rick Guillot and others put a bit of Christmas cheer into the community as five Lincoln Parish and five Ouachita Parish families and children selected through a nomination process got to spend time at Chuck E. Cheese and then go on a $250 shopping spree at Toys R’ Us.
Wellsprings and local churches sent in nominations for the group to select families of need.
Families of many different backgrounds were selected because of hardships of different kinds throughout the year.
“Out of all the things we do, this is our most fun event of the year,” Guillot said. “It means the world to us to see these families encouraged. Wellsprings and local churches send us nominations. There is no financial background check.” Guillot, Breaux, Orton, Nelson and Kirby of Merrill Lynch partnered with the Big Whit 77 Foundation on Thursday.
Julie Emory serves on the board for the Big Whit 77 Foundation and is the organizer of the Christmas event each year.
She also said the encouragement the group can give to families in need during the holiday season is the most rewarding part of the evening during this fourth annual event.
“It is absolutely my favorite thing that we do,” Emory said. “Anytime you get to encourage families in this way, it is an awesome thing to be a part of.”
West Monroe High School was represented by other former student-athletes on Thursday.
Robert Scott Foust, now a pitcher for UL-Monroe and Jake Norris, wide receiver on the football team at Louisiana Tech were part of a large group of local college athletes on hand to play with the children and help them shop for that perfect Christmas present.
“This means a lot to us,” Norris said. “I was a kid once and I know it would mean a lot if a college player would have come play with me. It is a great way for us to give back to the community. I think we are having as much fun as they are.”
Those that want to get involved or support Big Whit 77 can visit www.bigwhit77.com and contact the organization for more information.
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