Derrick Brooks has been handing out gifts and shoes during the holidays for nine years
Holiday traditions come in many varieties, from favorite meals at the family gathering to annual prayer services. Certain ornaments placed in certain spots on the tree; phone calls at just the right time to loved ones across the country; presents opened in a specific order – people preserve their traditions because it feels good to do so. It feels meaningful.
Several Tampa Bay Buccaneers players have a very well-established holiday tradition of spreading joy to those less fortunate in the Bay area community. Those December givers include linebacker Derrick Brooks and fullback Mike Alstott, who have preserved their holiday community programs for the better part of a decade.
On Wednesday, the same day he learned of his ninth selection to the NFL's Pro Bowl, Brooks hosted his annual Holiday Party for 50 children from the Boys & Girls Club. It was the ninth consecutive year that the charitable linebacker has brought together Boys & Girls Club kids to enjoy pizza, play video games and, best of all, receive presents and shoes from Derrick Brooks Charities. The party was held at Gameworks for the third year in a row and it gave Brooks the perfect opportunity to share his holiday spirit with some very grateful youngsters.
"Seeing kids have a good time, knowing that you changed their lives in a small way, is really what life is all about," Brooks said. "Anytime that you show a kid that you care about them, that you're interested in them, you tap into some potential and you never know what that potential will turn into."
A day later, Alstott continued a long-standing tradition of his own. For the eighth consecutive year, Alstott played host to a holiday party of a different sort. As he arrived on Thursday at the Joshua House, a residential facility for abandoned, abused and neglected children, Alstott greeted each of the kids and took a picture with them in front of a huge Christmas tree. All of the children received a Buccaneer team photo signed by the Pro Bowl fullback.
Alstott then coached the residents through a couple of the courses involved in the Gatorade Junior Training Camp. The kids took turns catching passes from Alstott in the receiver relay before throwing passes to him in the quarterback challenge. The drills wrapped up with the kids taking handoffs from Alstott as if they were running backs.
"It's a great time of year," said Alstott of his annual visit. "To come out here and spend time with the kids excites me just as much as it does the them."