Chiefs Players Spent Their Day Off with Area Youth Charities

The Chiefs Rookie Club and kicker Cairo Santos gave back to children in the community on Tuesday

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**The Chiefs Community Caring Team had a very busy day on Tuesday.

The first stop was the Children's Center Campus, where the Chiefs Rookie Club, Chiefs Cheerleaders and K.C. Wolf arrived for their annual holiday outreach visit. The day was spent visiting with the children, decorating Christmas cookies, assisting with a Christmas craft and helping lead Play 60 stations.

"Being able to interact with the kids takes us off of our normal busy schedule and their minds off of what they have going on in their world," said Chris Conley, rookie wide receiver. "We just have this moment of complete and total fun and it's special. It's awesome that the Chiefs organization allows us to be a part of something special like this."

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The Children's Center Campus houses three agencies: The Children's Center for the Visually Impaired (CCVI), Children's TLC and the YMCA Day Camp. TLC helps with therapeutic and educational therapies for children with disabilities, while the YMCA provides an on-site daycare service for children without disabilities to focus on social interaction and assimilation with children who are disabled.

The mission of the Children's Center for the Visually Impaired is to prepare children with visual impairments, including those with multiple disabilities, to reach their highest potential in the sighted world. Conley, along with rookie cornerback Marcus Peters and rookie defensive lineman Rakeem Nuñez-Roches, spent the day interacting with children from CCVI.

"For the last few years, the Chiefs rookies have come down to CCVI before the holidays," said Nicola Heskett, executive director with CCVI. "Because our kids are visually impaired, we really emphasize tactile experiences, so a lot of touching, a lot of tasting. The players are always really great about getting right in there, talking with the kids, decorating cookies."

Peters and Nuñez-Roches focused on cookie decorating, while Conley played the guitar and sang Christmas carols with the children. For visually impaired children, music plays a big part in their learning process, said Heskett.

"It's been a while, so I'm a little rusty, but it was interesting because a lot of these kids respond to different types of stimulants," Conley said. "That's one of the things we were talking about and that's one of the things I can do. I was glad to be able to share and to sing some songs to put them in the holiday spirit and have a little fun.

"When you can bring a smile to someone's face then you know you did your job."

Heskett said one of the coolest parts for the kids was to feel how big the players' shoes are to get a sense of just how big they are.

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"My favorite part has to be just being around the kids and really seeing their smiles," Nuñez-Roches said. "It brings you back to when you were that kid and you looked up to someone, and how surreal it is now. At one point, that was you, and now, you're that idol they're looking at."

Since the majority of teachers at CCVI are female, having positive male role models can make a huge difference in the lives of some of the children.

"We appreciate the consistency of the support and enthusiasm for what we do here," Heskett said. "Our kids aren't able to be out on the football field or in the stands, so it's important for them to be able to have the Chiefs experience in a way that works for them.

"The Chiefs organization has always been wonderfully generous to CCVI."

The Kansas City Chiefs Rookie Class visited the Children's Campus on Wednesday to play with the kids and decorate some cookies.

The second stop on Tuesday was at Operation Breakthrough. Kicker Cairo Santos read the new "Kansas City Chiefs ABCs and 1-2-3s" book to a classroom of 4 and 5-year-olds while K.C. Wolf distributed copies for the children to keep as a special holiday gift.

"We're so literacy-focused here, so [the children have] tons of read-alouds a day," said Tasha Marshall, Operation Breakthrough's volunteer service coordinator. "It's important to have books read to them by different people in their lives, too, and it just engages them in new ways. This was such an interactive thing and we love that they're interactive with the book as well. Then they get to take it home."

The Chiefs have a longstanding relationship with Operation Breakthrough, as the organization served as the beneficiary of the Chiefs Charity Game from 2005-08. Also, for the past four years, the Chiefs Women's Organization has partnered with Operation Breakthrough on an Adopt-A-Family program during the holidays to provide gifts to children and families that might not otherwise be able to afford a traditional holiday celebration.

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"I had a blast," Santos said. "One of my teammates, [punter] Dustin Colquitt, has five kids and I'm always around them. So when I got asked if I'd like to come here, it was yes in a heartbeat. I think they enjoyed the presence of K.C. Wolf more than me reading the story, but they got into it, too."

The book, "Kansas City Chiefs ABCs and 1-2-3s," is an alphabet counting book that teaches kids ages 2-7 all about the franchise. K.C. Wolf guides young readers through the game-day culture of Kansas City while learning letters and numbers and seeing original illustrations by Rob Peters.

"They loved the images and they're [relatable]," Santos said. "I saw a barbecue for 'B' and you're trying to teach them what tailgating is. They relate those two things, so it's awesome to see. It was just great to spend a day with the kids."

Kansas City Chiefs punter Cairo Santos (5) visited a classroom on Tuesday to read to the students.

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