Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Holidays with the Bucs

Buccaneer players are showing their holiday spirit at a variety of events designed to help children and families in need

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LB Derrick Brooks has long been involved with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Tampa

On Tuesday, December 21st, LB Derrick Brooks played Santa Claus for kids from Tampa area Boys & Girls Clubs. At a holiday party held at GameWorks in Ybor City, Brooks handed out gifts, including shoes and toys, and ate pizza with 60 kids. Chosen to attend due to need, the kids were given game cards worth two hours of free game-playing time.

The party is a tradition for Brooks, who works with Boys & Girls Club members throughout the year. This was the eighth year that Brooks has celebrated the holidays with a party for the kids.

"I'm trying to celebrate the season with the kids," said Brooks. "My present to these kids is to let them get back to being kids and get away from some of the everyday things they have to deal with here in our community."

This year, for the first time, alumni members of the Brooks' Bunch program came to the party to say hello and update Brooks on their successes after the program. Many of the former group members are in college and are back in Tampa to celebrate the holidays with their families.

A. J. Ponds, a former Brooks' Bunch member, was part of the group's trip to Africa, the Wild, Wild West trip to the western United States and the Brooks' Bunch and Beyond trip that visited cities such as Washington, D.C. and Chicago in 2003. Currently, Ponds is in his first year at Webber International University right outside of Lake Wales.

"Right before I left Brooks' Bunch I brought in my two younger brothers so they can experience what I've experienced," said Ponds. "It's great for someone to do things like that. Not only to give back, but to show many young kids that there is something better out there for you."

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Quarles Lends a Helping Hand

Pro Bowl LB Shelton Quarles helped out several area families on Tuesday by handing out Christmas dinners to 100 families in need. The dinners included a ham and all the traditional side dishes that accompany a holiday meal.

The recipients of Quarles's good will were families from MacDill Air Force Base and Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Tampa Bay. In addition to food, Quarles also provided the families with a warm holiday memory by signing autographs and taking pictures with them.

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Special Guest

On Wednesday, the Buccaneers welcomed a special guest to their morning practice. Aaron Kidd, 14, and his family visited One Buccaneer Place as part of Aaron's dream through the Children's Dream Fund.

Aaron has endured many physical challenges throughout his short life, and he currently is undergoing chemotherapy at All Children's Hospital. Aaron was able to meet Derrick Brooks, his favorite player, after the practice.

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