Takeo Spikes and Jason Hill Lead Giveaways
At two separate Bay Area locations on Tuesday, 49ers linebacker Takeo Spikes and wide receiver Jason Hill were taking part in their normal holiday season routine; giving back to children in need.
Spikes, who has been in the league for 11 years and has been donating toys during the holidays to children for the past seven years, chose a pediatric ward in San Jose as his recipient of choice while Hill, only his second year in the league, led his 2nd annual toy giveaways at two locations in San Francisco, both not far from where he grew up.
As part of his annual event, Spikes enlists his position group to participate by donating money for the toys, and most importantly, their time.
"It started out when I first started my foundation; I wanted to come up with a way to become creative to give back, but not just to have guys give money because it's so easy to give money if they want to give. I'd say, 'I don't want your money, I want your time'. From that, I got a lot of players to come here and just give me an hour or hour and a half out of their day and go in and pass some gifts out to the kids and spend time and let them know they're not forgotten."
Fellow Parys Haralson, Manny Lawson, Justin Roland, Jeff Ulbrich, and Joe Staley were happy to give up their time to join Spikes for a visit to Santa Clara Valley Medical Center where they donated over 50 toys to the 20 plus children and teenagers most likely spending Christmas in bed at the hospital.
The players walked room to room and handpicked presents, which they had purchased previously for the occasion, for each of the children based on their age and gender. The gifts ranged from stuffed animals for the infants to portable DVD players and movies for the teens.
Throughout the two hour trip, the players brought life and smiles to the children's faces by handing out gifts, making them laugh, and simply just spending a few minutes of their day with them.
Hill's mission in San Francisco brought similar results. When asked what his purpose of the giveaway was, his answer was simple, "Just to make people smile."
This is exactly what Hill did for hundreds of children in San Francisco.
Hill created flyers and as he did last year, used word of mouth to spread the news to those children in need about his gift giveaway.
Hill chose two locations in San Francisco - the Margaret Hayward Playground located at Laguna and Golden Gate and the Tenderloin Police Station. At both locations, youth were lined up around the block looking to one of their favorite NFL players and hometown heroes for gifts during the holidays. One by one, Hill let the children in and helped them pick one gift each to enjoy on Christmas day.
Whether he'd admit it or not, Hill is a hometown hero to so many, just like 49ers players were to him when he was growing up in The City. Being able to touch the hearts of these children is something Hill knows is important and is the reason he donates time and money back to the community he knows so well.
"Growing up in San Francisco I looked up to the 49ers, Jerry Rice, John Taylor, all those guys," says Hill. "Now is a time of year where it's very important to give back, more so than any, Christmas time, the time of giving, time to help the needy. We're doing a lot better than most so anything we can do to help is good."
Last year, Hill enlisted the help of his mother to spread the word and donate the gifts, but this year he had fellow San Francisco native and current teammate, cornerback Donald Strickland, help distribute gifts.
Born and raised in the Bayview/Hunter's Point district, Strickland joined Hill to help struggling families in his hometown have a brighter holiday.
"We wanted to give a toy to enable a kid who maybe wasn't able to get one this year with single parents and the economy, they might not have the funds necessary to provide so we wanted to be that outlet for them."