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Darius Leonard helps families in need

Darius Leonard has been named the Week 12 NFLPA Community MVP after he hosted two Thanksgiving giveaways – one for 70 Indianapolis families experiencing homelessness and another for 100 households in need in his hometown of Lake View, South Carolina.

“I am extremely thankful for being named the NFLPA Community MVP,” Darius Leonard said. “My goal has always been to give back to the community as much as I can. I see myself in many of these people and their different situations and struggles.”

After helping underserved families in South Carolina for Thanksgiving during the past few years, Leonard decided to also make an impact on those in his team city and second home – Indianapolis.

For this first giveaway on November 16, the four-year veteran teamed up with Coburn Place and Forum Credit Union to identify 70 families who are experiencing homelessness due to interpersonal abuse and domestic violence. Each received a Thanksgiving meal kit and got to take a photo with Leonard, who was on hand to distribute the goods.

Four days later, Leonard’s family hosted his annual Thanksgiving giveaway in Lake View, where they passed out 100 Thanksgiving dinner kits and Colts swag to families in need. The drive-thru event marked Leonard’s latest effort to show gratitude for the community that helped support him and his nine siblings.

“I love what I do on the field, but I think what I am doing off the field is what makes me the man I am today,” Leonard said. “I try to attack giving back the same way I do with playing football, which is trying to be the best I possibly can be at it.”

Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Leonard has made a point to increase his philanthropic impact through The Maniac Foundation, a non-profit he and his wife Kayla established to transform communities through education, wellness, serving families in need and other charitable causes.

In April, Leonard launched his foundation with its first annual bike giveaway, where 100 South Carolina children received a new bike and helmet.

Just before the start of the school year, Leonard hosted a backpack giveaway at his childhood school, Lake View Elementary. The fun-filled event saw 150 kids receive a brand-new backpack filled with new school supplies.

Next month, the Colts defender will take part in “Shop With A Jock,” which gives 50 underserved or at-risk youth a chance to go on a shopping spree and eat dinner with Leonard for the holidays.

In honor of Leonard being named this week’s Community MVP, the NFLPA is making a $10,000 contribution to his charity or foundation of choice.

Their supporting partner, Aldine Sports Association, is creating customized T-shirts and hoodies featuring his unique Community MVP superhero illustration made by HEARTLENT Group. The apparel will be sold on ASA’s website during the season, with a portion of all proceeds going to Leonard’s foundation or charity of choice.

Leonard, along with the NFLPA’s other 2021 Community MVPs, will become eligible for the Alan Page Community Award, which is the highest honor that the NFLPA can bestow upon a player.