The Glazer Family Foundation and Buccaneers cornerback Johnthan Banks – along with defensive end Will Gholston and safety
“The support from the community and Bucs fans, it was big,” said Banks, the spokesperson for the collection effort. “We’re very thankful for the fans, for the support of this event and the support of us throughout the season.”
The Replay Tampa Bay drive was held prior to the Bucs' December 8 game against the Buffalo Bills at Raymond James Stadium and it generated truckloads of sports equipment to be distributed to children in need during the holidays. The collection effort is actually ongoing and will continue through December 28 at Elder Ford of Tampa as well as other donation locations in the area.
“We’re going to pick back up in the spring,” said Rob Higgins, executive director of Tampa Bay Sports Commission.” We’d love to be able to continue to pass on that holiday cheer to kids who could really use it.”
Following a brief welcoming from Higgins, Elder and Banks, the Buccaneers contingent helped each of the 50-plus children in attendance personally select a piece of athletic equipment to take home. Three tables piled high with sports balls, baseball bats, hula hoops, scooters and more – all donated by the Bay area community – were offered to the children, who were all smiles when given the chance to pick out their favorite items.
“It’s heartwarming to see those kids smile,” added Banks. “A lot of these kids, they don’t have a lot and just to see the smile on those kids faces when they take that gift, it makes you feel really good about yourself.”
The Replay Tampa Bay drive is now in its third year, and the community's response to the growing need for donations has grown each season.
”The first year, we had about 200 items donated; this is our third year, and we’ve had over 1,000 items donated, so it keeps on getting bigger and bigger and bigger,” said Elder.” Hopefully, within about three or four years, we’ll have over 5,000 items donated a year.” The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office Charities, Metropolitan Ministries and Pinellas Sheriff's Police Athletic League all benefit from the community's donations and will assist in distributing the donated items at their respective headquarters. For more information on “Replay Tampa Bay” and collection locations, visit www.tampabaysports.com.