FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) The New York Jets saluted 18 military families with a holiday-themed party, complete with good, ol' St. Nick - Mangold.
The Atlantic Health Jets Women's Organization hosted the families, as identified by the United Service Organizations, for a celebration Friday at the team's training facility.
Jets center Nick Mangold played the role of Santa Claus, his bushy beard making him a natural pick, as children of military members hopped on his lap to make their holiday wishes and pose for pictures.
General manager Mike Maccagnan escorted the families around the team's facility, including the Jets' field house and weight room.
The families watched the Jets prepare for their game against the Giants on Sunday at practice in the morning, which was followed by the children decorating gingerbread houses and cookies and also creating care packages for their parents currently serving. Spouses of military personnel were also treated to manicures and massages, and all the families ended the day with dinner in the player cafeteria.
''During a time of the year where we are reminded to be thankful, our goal was to extend our sincerest gratitude for the sacrifices that our military families continuously make for our country,'' said Betty Maccagnan, wife of the Jets GM and a member of the Atlantic Health Jets Women's Organization. ''We hope we accomplished that today.''
Along with Betty Maccagnan, Taneka Bowles - wife of Jets coach Todd Bowles - and Dana Glat - wife of team president Neil Glat - help the team's community relations department oversee the AHJWO, which includes wives, fiancees and significant others of Jets players, coaches and football support employees as well as other female members of the team's staff. The AHJWO teams up with select charities in the community to hold events.
''It is with great pleasure that the AHJWO was able to host this event during the holiday season in honor of the United Service Organizations,'' Betty Maccagnan said.
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