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Sports Giving Back During the Holidays

sports giving backThe “season of giving” is upon us and sports athletes, their organizations and their partners are taking this saying to heart. Throughout the wide world of sports, teams are supporting their communities by “giving back” through charitable events, donations and hands-on interactions – and they’re giving back in big ways. The folks behind the scenes in the front office work hard to stage the events and develop corporate partnerships that will provide huge rewards for their efforts. The players take extra time out to interact with their fans, knowing how much it means to them, and feeling the rewards in their joy. The fans appreciate their home team’s efforts and give whatever they can to help them help the less fortunate. Read all about these holiday miracles in the examples below.

For this article, I am focusing on sports organizations in California only. It’s a big state and there are a lot of them! While you read, imagine all of these charitable initiatives being duplicated over the many orgs throughout the country. See if you can quantify just how big the business of “giving back” really is and not be totally awed by it!

A New Bike For Christmas

San Diego Chargers

Amidst all the new technology that dazzles young minds there is still one old standard that stays at the top of any child’s Christmas list – a brand new, shiny new bike! Admittedly, the business of sports is highly vested in advances in technology in order to give consumers the optimum fan experience. However, sport and non-profit organizations all over the nation are giving the simple gift of a bicycle and the message that getting outside and riding with your friends is the coolest gift to get.

NFL Play 60 and the Chargers went to Doris Miller Elementary School in San Diego for a “Bikes for Kids” event. Chargers Vincent Jackson, Jacques Cesaire and others were present to give bikes to every kid in the school!

San Francisco 49ers

The San Francisco 49ers teamed up with United Healthcare, Turning Wheels for Kids and Pods for the “Holiday Bike Build.” 49ers Brian Jennings, Daniel Kilgore, Mike Iupati and others were on hand building bikes for boys and girls to be distributed to East Palo Alto youth at the 49ers academy.

Sports Giving Back To The Military

San Diego Padres

The San Diego Padres are champions of the military community, having supported a variety of command events throughout the San Diego region this holiday season. Padres players like Tim Stauffer, Nick Hundley, Mark Kotsay, Will Venable and Jason Bartlett participated at some of these events.

Padres players and their families attended the Naval Special Warfare Command (SEALs) Family Holiday Party in support of the families affiliated with the NSW detachment.  Players signed autographs for kids and the Pad Squad and Swinging Friar distributed promotional items.

Tony Hawk – Pro Skateboarder

sports giving backProfessional skateboarder Tony Hawk and Padres players enjoyed lunch and signed autographs for the wounded warriors and their families at the Wounded Warrior Holiday Salute luncheon held at Naval Medical Center San Diego.

At San Diego Armed Services YMCA SuperParent Shopping Day, Padres players and their families joined Padres Vice Chairman and CEO Jeff Moorad to give back to military parents, as they had the opportunity to “shop” for two toys for each of their children from an array of donated items.  Players shadowed the parents, helped carry the items to their cars and provided input when necessary. More than 400 military families participated.   In honor of this relationship the Padres also made a $5,000 contribution to the San Diego Armed Services YMCA in support of their Family Outreach programs.

Go Shopping With An Athlete…They’re Buying!

From the San Diego example above to the Bay Area examples below, this idea is really catching on with teams all over the state.

San Francisco 49ers

sports giving backThe 49ers paired with low-income youth from Innvision the Way Home to embark on a shopping spree for the fifth annual Shop With a Player event presented by VISA. 49er players Delanie Walker, Braylon Edwards, Vernon Davis and others paired up with four kids who are buying gifts for their families, unaware they have $300 to spend and that they will actually get a gift themselves at the end.

Oakland Raiders

Oakland Raiders linebacker Kamerion Wimbley and ten of his teammates hosted Shop with a Jock, providing fifty children from the East Oakland Youth Development Center (EOYDC) with $100 gift cards in a local department store. Kids who have demonstrated good behavior are qualified to have this opportunity to walk side by side with the players, to have some conversations, and to select Christmas gifts for themselves or their family members.

Holiday Parties

What does baseball, basketball, hockey and racing all do the same in December? They all give holiday cheer, gifts and Santa Claus to children and families who have very little.

San Francisco Giants

The San Francisco Giants and Barry Zito hosted their annual children’s holiday party at AT&T Park for kids and families from local homeless shelters and programs. About 300 people came to spend an afternoon of fun activities, pizza and a gift from Santa. Other baseball teams to host holiday parties were the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

LA Lakers

sports giving backThe Lakers opened up their practice facility in El Segundo to local kids during the Lakers Holiday Party for Kids, the most recent event in the Lakers “A Season of Giving”, presented by East West Bank. This year’s Lakers Holiday Party for Kids featured a holiday reception hosted by the Laker Girls and was followed by a basketball clinic from the Lakers players.

Infineon Raceway

Infineon Raceway hosted more than 225 Sonoma Valley children and their families at their seventh annual Race to the Holidays Christmas Party, which featured caroling with the Sonoma Valley High School choir, refreshments, a car display, balloon animals and a visit from Santa Claus and his Pit Crew.  The event, which has attracted more than 1,600 children since its inception in 2005, culminated with Santa Claus presenting each child with a bag full of toys. Children, who ranged in age from newborn to 12-years-old, were pre-registered through six Sonoma Valley youth groups.

San Jose Sharks

The San Jose Sharks hosted 42 families at their annual “Holiday Assist Party.” Referred to the Sharks Foundation by Healthy Start Family and Resource Center, the deserving families spent the night interacting with players, coaches, broadcasters and front office staff and were treated to ice skating, arts & crafts, an Outback Steakhouse dinner and gifts.

Hospital Visits

It’s hard to top the inspiration a child and a family receives by getting a visit in your hospital room of a professional athlete from their favorite sports teams. A handshake, maybe an autograph or a photo and some inspiring words from them is all it takes to make a challenging day into a very, very good day.

San Francisco 49ers

San Francisco 49ers linebackers Monte Williams, Navorro Bowman, Parys Haralson and Patrick Willis visited Good Samaritan Hospital in San  Jose and brought toys to children and their families who will be spending their holidays in the hospital.

San Diego Chargers

In a joint effort with the Athlete’s for Education Foundation, Steve Gregory of the San Diego Chargers made a special visit to the pediatric unit at San Diego’s Kaiser Hospital to deliver smiles and some special holiday treats.

Oakland Raiderettes

sports giving backNine Oakland Raiderettes spent time with the kids at Shriners Hospitals for Children in Sacramento, California. The Raiderettes performed routines in the activities center where the patients normally go to play and get away from the monotony of their hospital rooms, posed for photos, played games and danced with patients and visited the ICU to meet patients that were unable to leave their rooms.

Golden State Warriors

Golden State Warriors players and cheerleaders visited with patients at Kaiser Permanente and at Children’s Hospital in Oakland.

Food Drives

When you have tens of thousands of people going to a stadium for a sports event, asking for a donation of cans and non-perishable food items is a no-brainer. Even if their in between seasons, teams have amazingly large numbers of people in their fan bases to reach out and inform them about where they can drop off their food donations.

Infineon Raceway

Infineon Raceway, joined by Innerstave, Pedroncelli Motorsports and others, distributed nearly 10,000 pounds of non-perishable food items to Friends in Sonoma Helping (FISH), St. Vincent de Paul Sonoma and the Redwood Empire Food Bank in Santa Rosa following the raceway’s 11th annual Thanksgiving Food Drive. The latter recipient said that the 2,920 pounds of food they received would allow them to distribute 2300 meals and make a huge difference.

LA Dodgers

The Los Angeles Dodgers gave away 600 turkeys and fixin’s in their Dodgers’ Community Thanksgiving Turkey Giveaway and 300 hams in their Dodgers’ Community Holiday Ham Giveaway.

San Jose Sharks

San Jose Sharks fans donated 20 barrels of food and $6,000 in monetary donations, which will feed 10,000 people. Sharks fans were very generous this year!

Helping to “bail out” the food banks

San Diego Padres

Eighteen San Diego Padres staff members volunteered 54 service hours in support of the South Bay Community Services “Feed America Day.” Volunteers assembled food packages and distributed these meals to more than 400 families.  The Padres also made a $10,000 contribution to the South Bay Community Services in support of the agency’s Family Wellness programs.

San Francisco 49ers

49ers rookies visit the SF Food Bank and pack boxes with food that will go to low-income seniors and mothers with children in the San Francisco Bay Area. Players participating include Bruce Miller, Demarcus Dobbs, Joe Hastings and others. Their efforts will directly impacted 549 people who are in need.

LA Lakers & Laker Girls

Ron Artest, Derrick Caracter, and the Laker Girls joined by Lakers office staff and approximately 100 Lakers season seat holders assembled food boxes at the Los Angeles Regional Foodbank.

Toy drives

Oakland Raiders

sports giving backA holiday fundraising program in it’s own category, the United States Marine Corps’ Toys for Tots events bring in nearly 30 million annually nationwide. Sports teams all over the country contribute to putting on many of these successful fundraising events. Teaming up with the Oakland Raiders, the Marines collected nearly 4,000 toys and over $10,000 in donations.

San Jose Sharks

San Jose Sharks fans broke the Toys for Tots record by donating $30,000 and 3,500 toys to the donation drive.

Anaheim Ducks

The Anaheim Ducks and Honda Center teamed up with the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) and ABC7 to support the Spark of Love Toy Drive by stuffing nine OCTA bus with more than 16,000 toys for needy children in Orange County.

Blood drives

San Diego Chargers

The San Diego Chargers hosted the 33rd annual Blood Drive at the stadium on Thanksgiving weekend. It’s a big deal down there, having about 9,000 people in attendance. Annually, it’s the largest single day blood drive in the nation. With its expansion, they are collecting 3,000-5,000 units of blood during a two-week period. Players that came out included Mike Tolbert, Ryan Matthews and Nick Novak.

I’m sure there are many more examples of sports giving back during the holidays. Please tell us about a holiday charity event that you’ve attended or have benefitted from. Please leave your comments below and feel free to share this article with your friends on Facebook & Twitter!


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