TAMPA - Tough guys on the field, Tampa Bay Storm’s James Harrell, #5, and Jimmy Gordon, #50, 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 2 hours.
The storms #50 even singing and dancing 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 16th 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-thousand children in the Tampa Bay last Christmas. In Hillsborough county alone, 6-thousand kids relied on Angel Tree last year & more are expected this year. Families can start registering for Angel Tree in their county in late August, 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 different 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”, explained Harrell with a smile. Turning to the camera lens, 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.”
From July 11 – 17, 2016 viewers will have three ways to participate in the toy drive. Monday – Friday, 8:30am – 5:30pm drop off toy donations at the front lobby of ABC Action News 4045 North Himes Avenue, Tampa, FL 33607. Saturday, July 16 – 2pm – 3:30pm drop off toy donations at Amalie Arena Plaza during pre-game party of TB Storm vs. Philadelphia Soul game at 3:30pm. Sunday, July 17 Noon – 1pm drop off toy donations outside Gate 1 of Tropicana Field during the pre-game festivities of TB Rays vs. Baltimore Orioles Game at 1:10pm.