Ravens `mom squad' spreads good cheer to PAL center kids

Group holds party Monday at stadium for 450 city youth

December 20, 2006|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,Sun reporter

Free safety Ed Reed, wide receiver Mark Clayton and tight end Daniel Wilcox were just a few of the many Ravens players who made Christmas special for about 450 Police Athletic League youth.

But the true stars were the women who helped stage the Christmas party for the children Monday night on the club level at M&T Bank Stadium: the Baltimore Moms Squad.

Composed of the mothers and wives of several Ravens players and women in the Baltimore area, the Baltimore Moms Squad was founded about a month ago by Sandy McCrary, mother of former defensive end Michael Mc- Crary, and JacQuetta Clayton, mother of Mark Clayton.

The pair was inspired to start the group after concluding a tour of the PAL centers with Craig Singleterry, an officer with the Baltimore City Police Department and program coordinator for the Goodnow PAL Center.

"We are moms who want to get involved, but want to get involved on a more meaningful level, not some social club," said McCrary, who enlisted - among others - the mothers of linebacker Ray Lewis, offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden, running back Jamal Lewis and cornerback Samari Rolle, and the wives of wide receiver Derrick Mason and linebacker Adalius Thomas.

"So we said, `Why don't we just reach out to moms?' It makes good sense because they bring a certain kind of nurturing energy that moms do. And Baltimore City is a place where service is needed."

For Clayton, the trip to the PAL centers had a more poignant meaning.

"We've been in situations when I was a single mother and things were not well," she said. "So I know what it feels like to be in need, and now that the situation is different, I can't imagine not giving back to the community."

So the Baltimore Moms Squad played host to the children from 18 PAL centers in the Baltimore area at the stadium, where the youth feasted on pizza, chicken tenders and fries; provided their own entertainment by way of song and stage; and got to meet some of their favorite Ravens players.

But for some of the children, getting $50 gift cards to buy Christmas gifts at area department stores was the best treat.

Diamond Williams, a fourth-grader at Medfield Heights Elementary School, bought two dolls for herself, but also purchased a bath set for her mother and several toy cars for her younger brother.

"I knew I was going to buy something for my mom and brother," she said. "It's Christmas."

"The Ravens moms have been a blessing to the PAL centers," Singleterry said. "They come to the centers, teach photography classes. They're hands-on, and they treat the kids as if they're their own kids."

At Monday night's event, the children's excitement was exceeded only by the pace set by the Baltimore Moms Squad, who seemed to zip from one table to another without ever touching the floor.

"When the kids are happy, that gives you energy," JacQuetta Clayton said, adding that the group's next initiative will be to provide one square meal per day to the PAL youth. "When you see how much the kids are enjoying themselves and how you're able to give them gifts and food, it brings joy to my heart."

edward.lee@baltsun.com

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