Home town pride: Chiefs’ Ward returns home to gift turkeys
Charvarius Ward was all smiles as cars lined up for his turkey distribution on Tuesday morning.
The Kansas City Chiefs cornerback has teamed up with members of the Boys & Girls Club of southwest Mississippi to hand out turkeys and boxes of produce to a crowd of visitors snaking around the block. The smile never went away. Ward relished the opportunity to return to his native McComb and give back to the community that raised him.
“I know that I give hope to a lot of people and that I inspire some of the children here. So I want to be a role model for the younger generation, ”Ward said. “I just give hope to the children here, it always makes me smile.”
Ward knew he wanted to give back to his hometown after re-signing with the Chiefs as a restricted free agent in June. He called Marcus Pittman, the club’s director of operations, last week to put the plan in motion. In partnership with the Mississippi Food Network, Ward and the kids distributed 290 turkeys and even more boxes of fresh produce.
“It was great to be able to partner with Charvarius and his team to be able to give back to the community. This is what it is about, ”Pittman said. “Especially at this time of year, it feels good to my heart to see people come out and be blessed like that, so we are grateful.”
Ward went through the club’s former location in Higgins, and made it his business to support the organization as a pro. He bought Chiefs school bags for the kids in the summer and arrived at the club to talk to them before the giveaway on Tuesday morning.
“It’s a good event today because he’s able to give back to the community,” said Randy Tate, club general manager. “He’s one of us who thought about making sure he takes care of his home and has always been a supporter of us.”
Ward could never have guessed that football would put him in this position. He did not play the sport until his senior year at McComb High School, but continued his career at Hinds Community College and Middle Tennessee State. He signed with the Dallas Cowboys as an undrafted free agent in 2018 before being traded to Kansas City. Since then, he’s worked his way from the bottom of the depth chart to the top, helping the Chiefs win Super Bowl LIV along the way.
On NBC Sunday Night Football tee-offs, players say their names and usually follow the school they attended. When Ward appears onscreen, however, he says, “McComb, Mississippi.” It’s a tribute to where his journey began.
“I just feel like McComb made me the man I am today,” Ward said. “Even going back to playing football in high school with these coaches, they had a huge impact on me. Just get off the couch and go out to play, like, that’s the reason I’m playing football right now.
Ward’s in-person presence on Tuesday was aided by the chefs’ week off. He said he plans to host this giveaway every year, although he can’t always be there himself. Ward’s mother, grandmother and several siblings attended the event.
Tanya Ward, Charvarius’ mother, wore a denim jacket personalized with the logos of every team Charvarius played on and their numbers on those teams, from Peewee to McComb in Kansas City.
Tanya said it’s always shocking when people say her son is famous. But there was no questioning of Charvarius’ celebrity status here. Almost everyone in attendance had a photo with the Super Bowl champion. Some visitors took selfies from their cars or even got out of their vehicles to take a photo.
For children, Ward represents a tangible example of what is possible. He was like them only a few years ago. Pittman and Tate remember how hard he worked as a student and how that work ethic spread to the football field. So while the NFL may not be in every child’s future, it’s important to know that education and determination can lead to success. And with success comes a chance to give back.
It took a long time for this event to happen in a short time. This turkey distribution doesn’t happen without the Mississippi Food Network, and the McComb Police Department routed traffic to the surrounding neighborhood. But when the planning and logistics turn into smiles and selfies, it’s hard not to be proud.
“It’s great to bring the community together and shed a positive light on this thing. It means a lot to him to be here personally, ”Pittman said. “He wants to give back to this community, he wants to be seen in the community… and it works wonderfully. “