WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — December is a busy month in the Leno household. Charles Leno is in the heat of the NFL season, preparing to play the Washington Football Team's biggest division rivals. Jennifer Leno is busy raising their two daughters and together they find time to give back to their community in a big way.
"You know always that's been a part of what we like to do, is give back. I know for sure we have big hearts and we just want to put smiles on people's faces," says Charles Leno, offensive lineman for the Washington Football Team.
Giving back is exactly what the Lenos are doing this holiday season while putting smiles on hundreds of faces throughout the DMV. Through their non-profit organization, Beyond the Entertainer, the couple has been counting down to Christmas by partnering with local organizations and families, to give back to those who need it most this time of year.
Coming up with a name for their holiday generosity didn't take too long. Jennifer asked Charles, "what do we call this, 'Countdown to Christmas'? Then Charles responded quickly with, "I want to call it 'Leno Claus'.
'Leno Claus' has helped 20 different organizations this month. Some include giving the residents at the Ronald McDonald House in Virginia supplies, giving a shopping spree to those at Covenant House Greater Washington, gifting STEM students with LEGOs through Athletes for Charity, partnering with the Hogfarmers to purchase a truckload of toys for kids and hosting a bingo night at Bailey's Shelter.
"At that homeless shelter we had a bingo night, and I was the host of bingo. It was fun, and it was cool. There was a very funny man there. Hopefully, he gets to watch this. He was cracking me up the whole time. He wasn't winning much, and it was my fault, it's always my fault," Charles joked. "It's a good time. They really enjoyed it, and we really enjoyed it giving back to the community," added Charles.
"We had over 200 organizations who were nominated, so I had to go through and figure out which ones were the best fit for our organization," said Jennifer Leno.
Beginning on December 21, the Lenos surprised three families and two individuals in the D.C. area. They paid rent for some, gave them money for groceries and are making sure the children have plenty of toys to open on Christmas morning.
"Sometimes these kids and these individuals go through so much, and you don't even know until you talk to them. I'm so thankful that my kids aren't in this situation, but I just want to make sure that others can understand that we are here for them, we are thinking about them, because that's just how we are," said Charles.
The Lenos say most of the donations this year came out of their pocket, but are hoping to raise more money for next year's Leno Claus. If you would like to donate, you can head to their website www.beyondtheentertainer.org
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