Shannon Yanda wrapped more than a dozen gifts Thursday, but not a single one was for a member of her own family.
That didn’t stop the wife of Ravens offensive lineman Marshal Yanda from imagining how Christmas morning would look at the home of the children for whom she was wrapping the gifts.
“I know how it was when I opened up presents when I was a kid,” Yanda said. “I screamed when I opened up all my presents.”
Yanda was one of 20 wives of current Ravens coaches and players who shopped and wrapped gifts at Sam’s Club in Owings Mills. The Salvation Army and Off the Field, the NFL wives association, teamed with Sam's Club to donate more than $200,000 in gifts for 20 in-need Baltimore-area families.
Between Sam’s Club and The Salvation Army, $800 in gifts and a $200 gift card for food was donated to each family, selected from some 1,800 families that signed up with The Salvation Army for Christmas assistance.
For Yanda, and other Ravens’ wives, the day was about donating their time and sharing some of their good fortune.
“I love Christmas, and I just wanted to be able to help other families,” Yanda said.
Ravens’ wives were involved in the annual event last year, too, when 10 families were selected for the “Dream Drive” program in Baltimore. It was Nicole Cundiff who brought the program to Baltimore.
Cundiff said she wanted to get the team's wives involved because of her experience with the program in Phoenix, where she keeps an offseason home with her husband, Ravens placekicker Billy Cundiff.
She said she was thrilled with the program expanding to 20 families this season, and was happy to donate time to ensure those families didn’t go without.
“So many of the families ask for necessities,” Cundiff said. “But we also get to give them things on their wish list.”
Diana Ellis, regional resource development director for The Salvation Army, said partnering with the Ravens’ wives and Sam’s Club made for a “wonderful event.”
Sam’s Club manager Andrea Jowanowitch said she was grateful for the partnership.
“It’s a great opportunity for us, as a club, to show our outreach,” she said. “And it’s fun.”
Christina Ngata, who also participated in the event last year, said she had a great time shopping for kids whose ages ranged widely. But it was also just nice to spend time with other wives of players and coaches, she said.
“We have a great group of people here,” said Ngata, the wife of Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata. “It’s really fun because it kind of unites all of us. It makes us grateful.
“I hope the kids are just so excited.”
As for Yanda, she hoped to have the opportunity to participate in the event again next year. But when asked if she’d be doing much more gift wrapping for her family this year, she laughed.
“Probably not too much,” Yanda said.