Tough guys on the field, James Harrell, #5, and Jimmy Gordon, #50, of the Tampa Bay Storm are a force to be reckoned with in arena football! The defensive back and linebacker are impressive both on the turf, and the toy store!
Just days before the launch of ABC Action News’ Christmas in July campaign, we saw their moves firsthand at the Walmart in Valrico. Store managers and employees could hardly keep up as the Storm players moved from aisle to aisle in the toy section, picking out toys for the Salvation Army.
In the lead shopping cart was Michael Gray, market director of Chase Bank – West Florida Division. Together, the trio kept employees in the toy department busy for two hours.
The Storm's #50 even sang and danced as he shopped!
“The Salvation Army needs more help," I said to Gordon, trying to keep a straight face. But with the towering linebacker gingerly holding Elsa and Anna Frozen dolls, swaying side to side, I put down my microphone and started laughing! “I just can’t concentrate when you’re dancing with Elsa,” I told him. Then, a wave of laughter rolled in from all three sets of blues – Walmart reps, the Storm and Chase!
The bank’s West Florida Division has generously donated $2,000 to the Salvation Army Angel Tree program serving Hillsborough County. The July 6 shopping spree and July 16 toy and check presentation at Amalie Arena during the Storm vs. Philadelphia Soul game will be the first donations to come in for this year’s Christmas in July.
ABC Action News partners with Salvation Army area commands in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Polk, Pasco and Manatee in July to recruit more sponsors for Angel Tree, which served more than 16,000 children in the Tampa Bay area last Christmas.
In Hillsborough County alone, 6,000 kids relied on Angel Tree last year, and more are expected this year.
Families can start registering for Angel Tree in their county in late August and early September. To even be considered, a family’s income must be at or below the federal poverty line.
“Any gift, any little toy you can give to the Salvation Army is going to make a huge difference in a child’s life and that is what’s most important,” said Gray. “Whether it’s July, October or any month, you can give back.”
Harrell agrees. “I can almost picture them, see their faces on Christmas morning when they’ll run out and open all this stuff," Harrell said with a smile. Turning to the camera, he said, “It’s important to do something for someone else! Yes, we all like to receive but try and give a little bit too. It feels even better!”
“I think it’s something we need to look after a little more than we have," added Gordon. “And we’re not asking for a million dollar toy, just something…little, big or medium to put a smile on someone else’s face.”
For more on the ABC Action News Christmas in July, visit www.abcactionnews.com/angeltree
From July 11 to 17 viewers will have three ways to participate in the toy drive:
Monday to Friday: 8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. drop off toy donations at the front lobby of ABC Action News 4045 N. Himes Ave., Tampa
Saturday, July 16: 2 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. drop off toy donations at Amalie Arena Plaza during pre-game party of Tampa Bay Storm vs. Philadelphia Soul.
Sunday, July 17: Noon – 1 p.m. Drop off toy donations outside Gate 1 of Tropicana Field during the pre-game festivities of Tampa Bay Rays vs. Baltimore Orioles Game at 1:10 p.m.