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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Perfect Gift

LB Shelton Quarles joins the Homes for the Holidays program to provide a single mother in St. Pete with a place of her own


LB Shelton Quarles helps welcome Tanya and Kevin Pickle to their new home

If you were told that you would be given a gift for the holidays that would surpass your every expectation, what would you hope for? A new car? A week's vacation in Hawaii?

Three days before Christmas, a St. Petersburg woman received something of which she never could have dreamed: a new, fully-furnished home. Tanya Pickle and her sons, Kevin, 7, and Kendrell, 16 months, will spend the upcoming holidays in a brand new home provided by the Homes for the Holidays program.

Homes for the Holidays helps single-mother families become first-time homeowners. Originally begun in 1997 by former Tampa Bay Buccaneer RB Warrick Dunn, the program has expanded to help families in Atlanta and Baton Rouge. This year, Buccaneer LB Shelton Quarles teamed up with Dunn, now an Atlanta Falcon, to present the home to Pickle and her sons. Through the program, Quarles and Dunn made the down payment on the new home and worked with local businesses to stock it with furniture and appliances. Quarles expects to remain involved in Homes for the Holidays in the Bay area, and there has been talk of starting the program in his hometown of Nashville.

Pickle and her sons entered the three-bedroom, two-bath home and were shocked to find new furniture and essential items. The house included not only new couches and beds, but also a computer, television, cleaning supplies and food in the cupboards and refrigerator.

Upon arriving at the house for the presentation, Pickle was surprised to learn she had been chosen to receive the house through Homes for the Holidays.

"I thought I was just coming to sign closing documents, and I would work on furniture and things through the years," Pickle said. "All I wanted was a home, and I got a little extra. A lot extra."

The house presented to Pickle on Tuesday, December 21, marked the 52nd home that Homes for the Holidays has given to a deserving single mother. Twenty-one of those 52 homes have been provided to families in the Tampa Bay area.

Quarles plans to be a permanent fixture in the Homes for the Holidays program in the Bay area. His first house presentation couldn't have come at a better time, with the holidays right around the corner. That time-worn holiday-time adage now rings true in Quarles's mind.

"It's definitely better to give than to receive, and today was just a prime example of what giving does and how it makes you feel," said Quarles.

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