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For the first time in seven years, Nazair Jones had a chance to be home for Thanksgiving.

He spent a portion of that time late Tuesday afternoon handing out turkeys to residents in need in the parking lot of Roanoke Rapids High School.

It was part of his Made Men Mentoring program and a way the NFL player, who is currently healing from an injury, chose to give back.

“It’s really to give thanks to the community,” he said. “I wanted to make sure this was something special for everybody.”

The community means a great deal to him. “It means everything to me. I’ve lived in Littleton, Roanoke Rapids, the county. There are so many people who had a hand in my success.”

Jones said this is the first time in seven years he’s had to enjoy Thanksgiving at home. “People watch football on Thanksgiving, but many don’t realize the football players want to be home, too.”

While the event was sponsored by Jones and fellow Roanoke Valley NFL players Kareem Martin and Keion Crossen, Jones fielded the giveaway at RRHS.

Crossen, who has the Keion Crossen Foundation, said, “I thought it was very special that the three of us could do something so special for the community. The most important thing is not how different we are but how much we are alike and can come together as one big community and enjoy the gift of giving.”

Randy Wrenn, who helped coordinate the event, said more than 250 vouchers went out to schools in Roanoke Rapids, Weldon and Halifax and Northampton counties. “These three men want to make sure that those in need have a nice Thanksgiving dinner.”

There were only between 50 to 60 turkeys out of a total of 400 left over, Wrenn said. Those remaining were taken to the Northampton County Sheriff’s Office for distribution in that county.

Assisting in the effort were not only city, county and state officials but several high school football players from surrounding schools, baseball players with the Roanoke Rapids 12U Eastern North Carolina state champion team and Elijah Lee, a KIPP student who is a child abuse prevention spokesperson.

Said Crossen: “I hope everyone has a blessed Thanksgiving and God blesses the entire community within the 252 area. There will be more (events) to come.”