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Tis the season to give, and seven professional athletes have really gotten into the holiday spirit with EAG’s annual “Shop With a Jock” event. During the month of December, Packers DE Ryan Pickett, Titans DE Kamerion Wimbley, Steelers DB Ike Taylor, Browns WR Josh Cribbs, Brooklyn Nets SG/SF Joe Johnson, San Diego Chargers TE Antonio Gates and Seattle Seahawks FB Mike Robinson visited their local Wal-Mart stores with teammates and hosted shopping sprees for at-risk kids.
In each city, 50 children were selected by local foster homes and youth organizations. EAG worked with Wal-Mart's corporate headquarters and businesses like Subway to raise $5,000 for each city's event. Thanks to the generosity of many, underprivileged kids get a once in-a-lifetime opportunity to go on $100 shopping spree with their favorite athletes, enjoy a free meal and get t-shirts, prizes and photos with the players.
"No kid should be without on Christmas," said Cribbs. "We're duty-bound to give back. The gift card only has $100 on it, and some children go over, but teammates have pulled out their own credit cards to make sure the kids got what they wanted. These children have been through enough. It’s a great feeling knowing that we can bring them a little bit of joy."
"My wife and I have a passion for children, and we're just doing things in the holiday season to reach out to the community. We just felt like this is a big need," said Pickett, "The [Green Bay Packers] organization is run as a family, and the community is part of that family. We’re a tight family group, and there’s no city like Green Bay. This is our chance to help out the underprivileged children in the town. Obviously it feels great, but that's not the reason I do it. I just really want to help these children."
For many of the athletes, "Shop with a Jock" is an annual tradition, because they understand some of what the kids are going through. Wimbley said the struggles of the holidays for those in need are something he understands on a personal level: "At one point, I was actually inside a foster home, so this is something that’s special to me. I think it makes a lot of these kids’ days to be able to come out here and meet an NFL player and meet other Titans and just go enjoy themselves, have a little shopping spree. I think it brings joy to them and their families during this time of year."
Athletes may already inspire your workouts, but why not let them also inspire your giving? Find ways to get involved in your community by checking out local charity organizations for events. Some great places to visit are: Toys for Tots, Angel Tree, Make a Wish Foundation, Christmas Wish Program, Operation Christmas Child, Salvation Army ,Wounded Warrior Project and Christmas Spirit Foundation.