Photos by Kerri Phox/The Atlanta Voice

A lady wiped tears from her eyes and hugged her two children as Warrick Dunn Charities Founder Warrick Dunn welcomed them to their new home on the morning of Tuesday, Nov. 21. Despite a steady rain and cool temperatures, more than 40 people and assorted media gathered outside of a two-story home in the Sylvan Hills neighborhood to greet the family and capture the moment.

A single mother, she moved to Atlanta in 2006 and works full-time for an insurance company. Having a forever home for her children was a goal, she said. During the welcome home ceremony she said a few words and thanked Dunn and the other representatives from Habitat for Humanity, Aarons, and others for their help in making this possible.

A combined effort from Warrick Dunn Charities and Habitat for Humanity made the home possible for the family. Through the program, Homes for the Holidays, homes are earned by the families, but receive the benefits of charitable donations from various organizations. The event marked the 220th home celebration for the charity, according to Dunn, who brought his 86-year-old grandmother from her native Baton Rouge, Louisiana and his 15-year-old nephew with him for the occasion. “This is her porch for now,” Warrick joked about his grandmother who sat in a chair nearby.

The patio furniture and all of the furnishings in the home were provided by Aarons, according to Kendall Jacobs, senior director of diversity, equity and inclusion for Aarons and a Warrick Dunn Charities board member. The major appliances inside the home -refrigerator, washer/dryer, and stove, were also courtesy of Aarons.

“It’s beautiful because Warrick always says we’re giving people a hand up, not a handout,” Jacobs said. “To see them walk through a house that’s fully furnished makes you feel good.”

The donation is worth $10,000, according to a release.

Along with Dunn, a former star running back at Florida State University and NFL star during his time with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Atlanta Falcons, Congresswoman Nikema Williams, who represents the 5th district, which encompasses the Sylvan Hills neighborhood, was on hand. Having grown up in a small house without indoor plumbing, Williams spoke of how good it can be for the development and mental heath of young children to have a safe and secure home to call their own.

“I know the importance of a safe place to call home,” Williams said. “Thank you for allowing us to be a part of this blessing in your life.”

Warrick Dunn Charities also handed the family a check for a $5,000 down payment towards the home. The kitchen was also stocked with food and kitchen appliances (microwave, toaster, for example). Having done charity work throughout the state, Tuesday’s ‘Homes for the Holidays’ celebration was the 62nd in metro Atlanta, according to the organization.

“Today is a special day,” Dunn said. “We couldn’t do it without a great team of individuals.”

Editor’s Note: We do not use the name of the new homeowner and any family or the address of the home in our stories on Habitat for Humanity and Warrick Dunn Charities for safety reasons.

Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Donnell began his career covering sports and news in Atlanta nearly two decades ago. Since then he has written for Atlanta Business Chronicle, The Southern Cross...