Warrick Dunn Homes for the Holidays

On the Saturday of Thanksgiving Weekend of 2017, it will mark 20 years that former NFL Player — and current philanthropist — Warrick Dunn welcomed the first family into a home built as part of his charity’s Homes for the Holidays.

Over the past two decades, the Warrick Dunn Charities has built approximately 155 homes, most recently placing a woman named Keyona Thompson — and her six children — into a home built in St. Petersburg, Florida, where Dunn’s professional football career began.

If you want to get a better sense of how the lives of one of those children getting the chance to live in one of these homes is impacted for the better: Deshaun Watson, who quarterbacked Clemson to the National Championship in Tampa this past January, grew up in a home that Dunn had presented to his family in 2006 outside Atlanta, where his charity is based. Just a few weeks after Thompson and her six children received their home, Watson was the 12th overall selection in the NFL Draft, on his way to becoming a millionaire.

Homes for the Holidays (HFTH) has made homeownership more affordable since 1997, helping families with economically-disadvantaged single parents by providing stipends of $5,000 for the down payment of a home, and other programs for first-time homeownership. All families are selected through a Habitat for Humanity affiliate and/or homeownership program.

In Thompson’s case, Dunn’s charity partnered with Habitat for Humanity and Publix Supermarket Charities, among others, to help her realize this dream. Habitat for Humanity has built over 400 homes in the area, while Publix has donated $4 million to Habitat’s Florida efforts, part of a multi-state campaign that will help fund 60 new homes.

In the fall of 2016, Aaron’s, Inc., a leader in the sales and lease ownership of various home furnishings, partnered with Homes for the Holidays to provide furnishings for another family that Dunn’s Charities had assisted with purchasing a home.