Two very giving individuals spread cheer to less fortunate children at Monday's party: Santa and John Lynch
He may not have pointy ears, wear a funny hat or work in green and red overalls, but for the past six years Buccaneers Pro Bowl S John Lynch has been one of Santa's best helpers.
On Monday, for the sixth December in a row, Lynch proved to be a most industrious elf, providing an evening of Christmas cheer for 29 children from Bay area Boys & Girls Clubs.
"This event was started by (former Buccaneer) Hardy Nickerson and he asked me to climb aboard," said Lynch. "I thought it was a great event and it's been fun every year to watch it progress. Every year to see the smiles on the kids faces, it's just tremendous. Christmas is my favorite time of year."
The Lynch Foundation Christmas Party began with Orange Grove Middle School students singing Christmas carols. With the crowd in good spirits, Lynch took the stage and invited everyone to join him for a dinner of pizza, pasta, salad, meatballs and fruit.
As everyone was enjoying the excellent meal, the Orange Grove students performed an array of holiday skits to entertain those in attendance. After the skits, Lynch asked the invited guests if they were ready to receive their gifts. As expected, the answer was a hardy affirmative, but there was something missing.
Lynch feigned a loss of memory, but the kids knew the missing ingredient: Santa had yet to arrive! Summoned by the kids' excited yell of 'Santa come in,' the jolly old fellow entered the room to a great cheer.
With Santa all set and Lynch sitting in a chair next to him, the children were called one by one to the front, where they sat on Santa's lap and took a picture with Lynch and Santa and received an autographed football from Lynch. Each child then received a gift bag filled with items from their Christmas wish lists, which were provided to the Lynch Foundation by the Boys & Girls Clubs.
Holiday dreams came true inside the bags - remote control cars, Barbie dolls, clothes, stuffed animals, CDs and CD players, shoes, books, basketballs and baseball bats. The air was filled with the 'oohs' and 'aahs' of a typical Christmas morning.
The day of giving was as important to the advisors of the Boys & Girls Clubs as it did to the young invited guests.
"It means a lot," said Michael Brittingham of the Zonta Boys & Girls Club, who was able to bring one of his club members. "This Christmas is going to be rough for him, it's his first without his dad. We kept it a secret and he had no idea he was going to get a gift and to see his face when he went up there was awesome."
That look – wide eyes and bright smiles – is exactly what Lynch wants most for Christmas each year.
"To be able to give a little joy to some people who maybe had a rough year just puts joy in your heart," said Lynch. "Just to see the kids have their wishes fulfilled is something special."