As reported in The Sun Chronicle
BY JULIET PENNINGTON FOR THE SUN CHRONICLE
MARTIN GAVIN / SUN CHRONICLE STAFF
The Patriots’ Brandon LaFell, left, helps Scott Ramos who holds one of his 17-month-old twin sons while the other rides in the basket at the lower right, check out at the Target Store in Plainville.
PLAINVILLE — New England Patriots linebacker Darius Fleming might have serious skills on the football field, but when it comes to fashion, 13-year-old Corvens Depaliste said No. 53 needs some help.
“He helped me pick out some things, but his style isn’t very good,” said Depaliste, one of almost 20 children from an area homeless shelter who were taken, along with their families, on a shopping spree at Target Monday night, courtesy of Patriots wide receiver Brandon LaFell and his wife, Kristen, who oversee his charitable organization, The LaFell Group.
Despite what he saw as Fleming’s style shortcomings, Depaliste said it was “pretty cool” walking around Target and shopping with Fleming. For his part, Fleming said that Depaliste’s sense of fashion “could use some improvement … but he’s on the right path.”
Fleming was one of many of LaFell’s teammates who came out to pair up with the children and their families and help pick out everything from clothes to toys.
“I won’t say we wouldn’t have a good Christmas if this hadn’t happened, but it wouldn’t be as good, that’s for sure,” said Scott Ramos, a single dad who had his 8-year-old son and 17-month-old twin boys in tow. “I’m just really grateful to these guys for being here and doing this for us.”
Ramos said his oldest son, Ricardo, is a huge Patriots fan, so shopping with safety Duron Harmon was a big treat — even though Harmon’s attention was occasionally taken away by one of Ricardo’s younger brothers, who Harmon would entertain with a rattle or other toy on hand to keep them from fussing.
“It’s a blessing to be able to be here and put smiles on people’s faces,” said Harmon, who brought along his 4-year-old son, Christopher, who enjoyed helping his dad — especially when they were in the toy aisles. “There are a lot of people not as fortunate as myself, so if I can help, I do.”
Linebacker Jerod Mayo said LaFell has a “big heart,” and he was happy to help out his charity.
“This is a good cause and helps a lot of families in need,” Mayo said before he was paired up with a family and started shopping. “We’re going to get things they want, but we’re going to make sure they get things they need, too, like coats and things they’ll need when it gets cold.”
As the football players and their families made their way to the registers with shopping carts overflowing with holiday gifts, a line of people, including Target employees and shoppers, formed at the front of the store to catch a glimpse of their favorite players and take pictures with their cellphones.
“I had no idea they would be here,” said Foxboro’s Alli Greenberg, 23, who happened to be wearing a Patriots T-shirt while shopping. “It’s a nice surprise. I’m not going to complain about it.”
Tight end Asante Cleveland, who joked that he was “the baby whisperer” because one particular baby seemed to be happy only when he was paying attention to her, said he is grateful to have a job that allows him to give back to those less fortunate.
“Especially now, during the holiday season,” he said.
April Malo, a supervisor at the shelter, said the families were very excited — and appreciative — for Monday night’s shopping spree.
“They don’t always have the ability to get their kids what other kids have, so this means a lot to them,” she said. “Many of these parents are having a tough time making ends meet, let alone buying Christmas presents.”
LaFell said he appreciated his teammates coming out to help, especially since it was a long day after traveling back from Houston Monday morning.
In addition to those mentioned, other players on hand were running back James White, wide receiver Chris Harper, safety Brandon King and running back Brandon Bolden.
“We really tried to get the kids things they needed, like sweaters, jeans, boots, gloves … but then we let them get fun things they wanted, too,” LaFell said. “At the end of the day, we just wanted to see smiles on these kids’ faces, and we did.”
Posted: Monday, December 14, 2015 11:13 pm | Updated: 11:18 pm, Tue Dec 15, 2015.