It's the most wonderful time of the year and Buccaneers players are spreading holiday cheer to local families throughout the Tampa Bay community in the spirit of giving. It's been a weeks-long effort among multiple players and positions groups, ranging from one-off events for player foundations to the start annual traditions.
It began Monday, December 13 when wide receiver Mike Evans hosted a Christmas party with the Boys & Girls Club of Tampa Bay that supported families impacted by domestic violence, a cause in which is close to Evans' and his foundation's heart.
Inside linebacker Devin White held his first Get Live 45 gala, raising nearly $200,000 for his foundation aiding foster children both locally and in Louisiana.
The following day, December 14, Evans provided a shopping spree for 13 kids to follow up his Christmas party the day before. Outside linebacker Shaq Barrett then stepped in with the Boys & Girls Club, taking a holiday visit to their recreation center while running back Leonard Fournette sponsored a $50,000 shopping event for the Boys & Girls Club in his hometown of New Orleans.
Cornerback Richard Sherman and some of the Bucs' defensive backs sponsored a holiday party for foster youth at New Life Village. Forty families, including 46 children, received a catered meal and each child got a signed jersey, Nike shoes, a Nike bag and basic essentials like socks and hygiene products. Each family also received a $275 gift card to Target. It was funded by $14,500 in donations from Sherman, Sean Murphy-Bunting, Pierre Desir and Ross Cockrell, along with a match from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Social Justice Fund.
View photos of holiday event at New Life Village where Richard Sherman, Pierre Desir, Sean Murphy-Bunting, and Ross Cockrell provided surprise Christmas gifts for local families
On Wednesday, December 15, wide receiver Chris Godwin's Team Godwin Foundation hosted an event at Zoo Tampa with Metropolitan Ministries. The following day, running back Ronald Jones supported three Tampa-area families with children battling sickle cell disease from Hands of Hope, along with two additional families back in McKinney, Texas.
Fellow running back Giovani Bernard, raised by a single father after his mother passed away, surprised 25 single parents from United Way Suncoast over Zoom with a $500 Target gift card and Bucs gear. It was funded by Bernard personally along with a match from the Social Justice Fund.
Monday night, the offensive line hosted the inaugural O-Line Lights Up Christmas event full of surprises and a shopping spree for local families at Target.
The following day, Fournette then hosted another $50,000 shopping event, this time with the Boys & Girls Club of Tampa. Inside linebacker Kevin Minter and wide receiver Justin Watson sponsored a shopping event at Target with 50 Littles from Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Tampa Bay. Each child received $300 gift cards. All players' participation in their events was virtual.
White hosted "Devin's Great White Christmas Party" in Tampa. It was his second year working with Door of Hope, a faith-based organization aiding foster children and their families. White's event for 102 foster children was supported by a $10,000 match from the Social Justice Fund and White participated virtually to surprise families with various gifts.
Defensive lineman Will Gholston and cornerback Carlton Davis supported youth from Safe & Sound Hillsborough on Tuesday, as well. The event was funded by both players and a match from the Social Justice Fund. Davis was able to participate on Zoom as they surprised children in the organization with gifts.
And though most participation was virtual this year, it was important to players to be there for their community. The Buccaneers are proud to amplify player impact through their Social Justice Fund. The Social Justice Fund, established in 2018 by the Glazer family, matches player donations to the Tampa Bay community that help break down barriers to racial and social equality.