TAMPA, Fla. — The big guy in red is not the only one handing out happiness this holiday season.
It’s also the big men in red and pewter delivering gifts for the ninth annual Tampa Bay Buccaneers “D-Line Delivers Christmas.”
Sixty-five under-served children at the Jackson Heights NFL Y.E.T. Center were surprised with gifts, like a Microsoft Surface tablet, a wifi hot spot and a FitBit.
“I was shocked, surprised and it felt great to me,” Demetrious Murray said.
Bucs’ defensive end Will Gholston has taken part in the event for eight years. Because of COVID-19, he couldn’t be there in person this year.
“It sucks to be honest with you, to be straight-forward,” Gholston said. “It’s not a good feeling because time is more valuable than the material that we are giving out. To see the joy on kids’ faces, I’ll see them in pictures, but it’s something to see the results. I bought this material stuff for them, but look how excited they are.”
All of these gifts were made possible thanks to more than $60,000 in donations from the Buccaneers, including each member of the defensive line chipping in and a matching grant from the Bucs’ social justice fund.
“I think it’s something you can be proud of even if you weren’t there from the start,” Gholston said. “Every guy I’ve played with, they all have the same excitement and joy for giving back to people or kids not as fortunate as we are now.”
The gift of technology during these COVID times can go a long way. For 10-year-old Demetrious Murray, receiving a tablet is invaluable for his education.
“It can help me with homework, school work, things to research,” Murray said. “A lot of things can help me with for some unknown answers I did not know.”
Monday’s holiday tradition is being carried on by the Buccaneers’ 2020 defensive line: Ndamukong Suh, Will Gholston, Vita Vea, Steve McLendon, Rakeem Nunez-Roches, Patrick O’Connor, Khalil Davis, Jeremiah Ledbetter, Benning Potoa’e, Kobe Smith, and coaches Kacy Rodgers and Lori Locust.