LB Kamerion Wimbley and FB Marcel Reece signed autographs in exchange for toys at the Toys for Tots event. Photo by Tony Gonzales.
The Oakland Raiders teamed up with the United States Marine Corps during the holiday season to collect toys and donations for kids as part of the Toys for Tots program. In two autograph sessions, one with QB Jason Campbell and WR Jacoby Ford, and another with LB Kamerion Wimbley and FB Marcel Reece, Raiders fans donated 1,343 toys in exchange for autographs. Additionally, the Marines attended the December 19th game versus the Denver Broncos, collecting toys and monetary donations at the gates.
The toys are donated to local organizations to give to children during the holiday season. "These non-profit organizations give thousands of toys so they request from us and that's where the bulk of our toys go," explained Marine Staff Sergeant Christopher West, assistant Toys for Tots coordinator for Alameda.
The four players were excited to help collect toys for children around Christmas time. "Marcel Reece and I are just out here to support Toys for Tots and hopefully get a lot of people from the community to come out and donate toys to help make this a merry Christmas for a lot of kids in the Bay Area," said Wimbley. "I know this is very important for a lot of families and helps out a lot of families. We were definitely looking forward to coming out here and we're just happy to be here."
WR Jacoby Ford and QB Jason Campbell visited with fans and signed autographs at Toys for Tots in Hayward. Photo by Tony Gonzales.
Reece's passion, outside of football, is giving back to kids, so participating in Toys for Tots was especially meaningful. "It means a lot because I always try to do something that I never had done for me when I was a kid and everything I do outside of football is surrounded by kids," said Reece. "Toys for Tots screamed kids and I love kids and I love trying to help put smiles on their faces and this is a great thing for us and the Raider Nation."
Campbell and Ford signed autographs in the first Toys for Tots event at Southland Mall in Hayward, Calif. "It's a great cause," said Campbell. "You're giving to the people that are in need and giving back is always something great. It also brings the community closer and closer together. When the players and the community can unite and do something together in a function like this it goes a long ways."
"It's definitely a lot of inspiration to come out here and just try to make some kid's Christmas and these fans' Christmas too," said Ford. "To be out here interacting with the fans is really great."
All four players also looked forward to meeting the fans and being out in the community. "It's amazing," said Reece. "It's amazing to just interact with our fans and become one with our fans. There are no fans like the Raider Nation. We love them and they love us and it's a great bond that we have with them."
Toys for Tots was a success because of the generosity of the fans and the support of Campbell, Ford, Reece, and Wimbley. "To be in the position to help others and put a smile on their faces during this time of year, it just means the most," said Campbell. "For me it's not about accepting gifts it's about giving gifts. Christmas is always a time of giving."