Redskins running back Alfred Morris distinguishes himself through charity work


Washington Redskins running back Alfred Morris gives out coats at Macy’s at Metro Center. (Hamil R. Harris/The Washington Post)

Tuesday is normally the scheduled day off for the Washington Redskins, but Alfred Morris may have missed the memo.

The Tuesday before Christmas, Morris was in the locker room at FedEx Field doling out toys with U.S. Marines. The week before that, he was passing out winter coats to children at Macy’s downtown. Then there was the Tuesday before that, and the one before that.

Whether he is giving out toys and coats to children in need or dressing up like Captain America and swooping down on youngsters in the pediatric ward of a local hospital, Morris has used his rookie season with the Redskins to be everywhere in the name of charity.

“Anytime I get an opportunity to give back, I give back,” Morris said in an interview during the Marine toy giveaway. “My heart for giving was shaped by others who gave to my family. I saw how selfless they were. It is not always about receiving, but giving, so every time they have some type of event to give, I am always there.”

This season, Morris has gone from obscure sixth-round draft choice from Florida Atlantic University to star running back in the National Football League. As the Redskins won the NFC East against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night, he ran for more than 200 yards, breaking the single-season rushing record of 1,516 yards that had been set by former Redskin Clinton Portis in 2005.

Redskins running back Alfred Morris talks about giving back to the community at a charity drive at FedEx Field. (Hamil R. Harris/The Washington Post)

But off the field, Morris is often mentioned in the same breath as Redskins greats Joe Gibbs, the legendary head coach, and Darrell Green, the Hall of Fame cornerback, when it comes to his charitable good works and his quiet religious faith.

Jane Rogers, executive director of the Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation, said Morris has been a role model. “Alfred Morris can always be counted on to get involved in any event the Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation conducts in the community,” she said. “He has a unique ability to connect with kids and make them feel special and engaged on all levels.”

As a child growing up Pensacola, Fla., Morris said humility was one of many lessons that he learned playing football at Pine Forest High School and attending church at New Dimensions Christian Center on the blue-collar west side of the coastal city.

During one service at New Dimensions, Morris’s mother, Yvonne, preached using three passages from the Bible that have been a road map for her child’s life.

The first was from John 15:5 — “Without God, we can do nothing.” The second was from 2 Thessalonians 3:10 — “He who will not work, will not eat.” The third was from Matthew 23:12 — “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”

“I never got to go to a stadium when I was young,” Morris said during the toy giveaway at FedEx Field. “Just giving back to these kids is a great feeling. I once was in their shoes — wanting things like this so that I could have Christmas presents under my tree.”

As the playoffs approach, Morris seems as proud of his charitable work as he is of his rushing record. “It is a great feeling to give back,” he said. “It is a great feeling to see the joy, the happiness and the smiles, and these kids’ faces light up. It makes it all worth while.”

Hamil Harris is currently a multi-platform reporter on the Local Desk of The Washington Post.
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