It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and with the 49ers 6th annual Visa Shop with a Player event, Christmas is looking a lot brighter for over a dozen Bay Area youth and their families.
49ers Vernon Davis, Delanie Walker, Randy Moss, Tarell Brown, and Darius Fleming all took part in the shopping spree event held at a local Target earlier this month, and with the help of team sponsor Visa, the players spent the day helping low-income youth from EHC Life Builders buy holiday gifts for their families.
"We are partnering again this year with Visa for Shop with a Player – a very popular event with our players," said 49ers Director of Community Relations & 49ers Foundation Joanne Pasternack. "This event is an opportunity to kick off the holiday season with huge smiles and to enable the kids to get items for their family members. Of course, one of the biggest highlights is when we let the kids know that they also get to select something for themselves."
Each player was paired with three children from EHC Lifebuilders, and each child was provided with a $300 Visa gift card to spend as they wished. However, the selfless spirit of the giving season was very much present, as at the top of each child's pre-made wish list were gifts for their family members.
"The families who are being served today are homeless," Jenny Niklaus, CEO of EHC Lifebuilders said. "They wouldn't normally have access to these kinds of Christmas gifts. So, we can't thank the 49ers and the players enough for taking the time today to shop with our families to make an amazing Christmas for these kids and their parents."
Randy Moss, who led a spirited team of shoppers up and down the aisles, paused for a quick moment to reflect on the true meaning of the day.
"The best part of each day is to come home and see the smiles on your own kids' faces. So, it's definitely a blessing to be able to come out and put smiles on other kids' faces also," said Moss. "Christmas shopping with these kids, you really can't put it into words because any time you can put a smile on a kid's face, that's heartwarming and you can really feel it inside. I'm having a great time shopping with the kids. I'd just like to thank Visa for putting this together for the children and inviting us over to spend some time with them."
In order to make the most of the day, Vernon Davis decided to put together a strategic plan to help keep his team on track.
"One child wants a 22-inch television and the other one wants Beats By Dre, which is a tad over our limit," Davis said. "We're going to have to figure it out. Our game plan is to work within the budget but have a lot of fun in the process."
The players and their teams shopped the afternoon away with carts piled high with presents for their loved ones and with plenty of smiles and laughter in tow. As they left, Vernon Davis summed up the experience.
"You get a chance to just help kids. And it's all about the kids. And anytime it's all about the kids, I'm all for it," said Davis.