DENVER —Chris Harris Jr.'s biggest worry Monday night at the Denver Rescue Mission was staying away from the chocolate toppings at the cookie-decorating station.
"Anything but chocolate," Harris said. "I'm a SweeTarts, Skittles, Starburst type of guy."
That turned out to be the only reason for concern at the Denver Rescue Mission's 18th annual Holiday Party, which has become one of Harris' key community initiatives since former cornerback Champ Bailey charged him with taking over the party following Bailey's retirement.
Chris Harris Jr. and the Broncos helped keep the holiday season going strong Monday at the Denver Rescue Mission's 18th Annual Holiday Party. (Photos: Aric DiLalla)
"He personally told me to take over and continue to uplift these people as much as possible," Harris said. "This is one of the best turnouts I think we've had here. We had a lot of teammates join this time, and it's good seeing familiar people."
Approximately 100 families joined Harris and 10 of his teammates Monday night for a holiday meal and cookie decorating. The Mission provides families in transition with a clean and safe residential community where they're able to change their lives.
Defensive lineman Zach Kerr, who attended the holiday party during his first season with the Broncos, understands the Mission's goal well. When he was a child, he remembers being in similar situations when it came to transitional housing.
"I experienced this," Kerr said. "I've been at a holiday party, and I've been one of these kids running around eating food. We didn't have any athletes, but it was still a fun time. I pretty much decided that it would be good for me to come back and do something like that, as well."
And at a time when the Broncos have struggled on the field, Monday's interactions with children living at the Mission provided more than a little perspective for Harris and his teammates.
"It just shows that, win or lose, we're always going to make an impact in the community as much as possible," Harris said. "Even when our record's bad, we're still a lot of these people's heroes. To be able to come here and give them an early Christmas gift, it's very important."
Giving that gift was certainly much easier for some players than decorating the cookies during the second half of Monday's event.
"I never designed a cookie a day in my life," Kerr said, "so I'm just going to go with a nice little star and keep it simple. Hopefully I sit with one of these kids that's good at arts and crafts."