They prepared and served plates of the traditional November fare and took pictures with the guests.
Wide receiver Ryan Switzer went beyond the outline of his volunteer duties.
He sat at a table and broke bread with them, trying to make an impact on people facing a variety of circumstances.
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“My parents instilled that. That’s how we were raised. Treat others how you want to be treated, treat others with respect,” Switzer said. “Obviously, you’re not going to be perfect 100 percent of the time, but more times than not you need to do that. Show appreciation for the blessings you’ve been given.
“They’re just people. We talked about life, talked about football. We enjoyed some food. I was hungry, so it was good to eat.”
The annual visit was part of the Jones family’s partnership with the Salvation Army. Cowboys veterans made a visit to a location in Dallas.
Since 1997, the Cowboys have dedicated halftime of their Thanksgiving games to the kickoff of the Salvation Army’s “Red Kettle Campaign.” Each year, a top recording artist is featured at halftime.
According to the Cowboys, the franchise has helped raised $2 billion for the Salvation Army, reaching upward of 500 million in need through the “Red Kettle Campaign.”
“My favorite part of these things is just the smiles on the faces of the people that need this food,” center Travis Frederick said from the Dallas event. “You don’t think about it when you’re sitting down for your great meal that everybody doesn’t get a chance to have that meal. So, when we get a chance to give out a meal that looks so good and tastes good, it’s fun to see smiles on their faces.”
For the Cowboys, the volunteer opportunity also served as a timely diversion from a 27-7 loss to Atlanta on Sunday.
If there was any hangover or any reluctance to get out and do their community outreach project, it didn’t show. They were all very willing participants.
These types of events also help teammates build relationships with each other outside of the “office,” particularly for the younger players.
“It was cool to see how the guys here interact with others,” Switzer said. “The personalities that come to life that you don’t see on the job. It was cool to see.”
As part of that team bonding, the Cowboys rookies in Fort Worth — perhaps illustrating their youth — engaged in a longstanding debate while scooping sides.
Should the food items touch on the plate?
“They were talking about corn and mashed potatoes and how they shouldn’t touch,” Switzer said. “I was like, ‘those things go hand in hand.’ ”
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Staff writer Drew Davison contributed to this report.