Football Players Go On Shopping Spree
by Tim Peeler
Alan-Michael Cash took good notes. The senior defensive tackle and his wife will be doing some real Christmas shopping for their 3-year-old daughter Jaida sometime next week, when he’s done with exams.
NC State Football’s
Alan-Michael Cash filled up his cart quickly.
So Thursday afternoon, in the second-annual NC State football Toys for Tots shopping spree at a Triangle-area Wal-Mart, Cash filled his shopping cart full of dolls, Dora the Explorer paraphernalia and all things Hanna Montana. And he kept an eye out for things he thought Jaida might like.
“This is pretty easy for me,” Cash said. “We spent a lot of time shopping for toys.”
While seven of his teammates filled up their carts with Batman, Iron Man and Spiderman toys, plus a few Tony Romo figurines, Cash stayed primarily on the rows that were colored pink, looking for Barbie dolls, teapots and other frilly things for the sugar-and-spice set.
The eight players, plus assistant coach Mike Reed, helped spend some of the money they helped raise through a season-long promotion with Coca-Cola, which donated $500 to the U.S. Marine Corps’ Toys for Tots program for every touchdown the Wolfpack scored this season.
The 34 touchdowns raised $17,000 in cash for a program that is dear to NC State head coach Tom O’Brien’s heart. O’Brien, a former Marine officer, is on the national board of directors for the Toys for Tots campaign, which was started by the U.S. Marine Reserves in 1947.
In addition to the money for touchdowns, Coke gave another $3,500 for an on-field promotion during NC State’s win over Wake Forest in November. Wolfpack fans also helped out by giving more than $17,000 in cash and bringing an additional 3,000 toys for the campaign at the Wake game, making this year’s fund-raising and toy-collecting effort nearly twice as big as last year.
NC State Football Players have a shopping spree for area kids in need.
“This is a great chance for me to give back to the community, as Coach O’Brien says all the time,” Cash said. “I just thought it would be a fun thing to do, to give them some support.”
Senior tailback Andre Brown figured, since he scored eight rushing and receiving touchdowns this season, he should be allowed to buy $4,000 in toys. Alas, since the players are still in the middle of exams this week, time was limited, and they only filled up one shopping cart each.
Brown still managed to pile in more than $800 worth of toys in his basket, though he was clipped in the end by placekicker Josh Czajkowski for most money spent during the hour long spree. And don’t think the players weren’t competing to see who picked out the most, though their instructions were to keep each item at $10 or less.
Of course, it didn’t hurt that Czajkowski was the last player in the checkout line and he was standing next to an shelf full of grab-and-go stuff that always catches the eyes of little ones when their parents check out. Between those check-out line toys and the packs of batteries he put in the empty spaces of his cart, Czajkowski managed to spent more than $900 in toys and accessories.
In all, the players bought a total of $4,685 in toys and gifts for the program, with local representatives from Coke on hand to pay for everything. The rest of the money raised will go directly to the 10-county Triangle region to provide toys for kids who might not otherwise receive anything this holiday season.
“This by far is the biggest thing we do in our region,” said Marine 1st Sgt. David Crafton, program coordinator for the region. “It raises the most money and gets the most toys of anything we do. It makes me feel great along with the Marines here to see collegiate athletes care about something like this and giving back to the community.
“I know it takes away from their studies and they are in exams right now. But they really enjoyed coming out here. It makes us proud to see that these guys are here representing collegiate sports across the nation.”
At the end of the day, the Toys for Tots van pulled out of the Wal-Mart parking lot, piled full of enough toys to make a lot of children’s Christmas dreams come true, turning a rainy, dreary day into something much more bright and beautiful.
Thanks to the Wolfpack’s Tim Peeler for this capcom story & these capcom photos.