LB Kirk Morrison hosted his third Shop With a Jock event.Photo by Allan Yuan.
During the holiday season, especially in our current times, helping those who are less fortunate is more important than ever. Donating money and needed items helps, but many organizations need people to volunteer their time as well. Raiders LB and Oakland-native Kirk Morrison, along with several of his teammates, did all of the above by hosting his 3rd Annual Shop With a Jock event benefiting 50 boys and girls from the East Oakland Youth Development Center.
This event, held at a large, discount department store in San Leandro, Calif., holds special meaning for Morrison, who along with members of his foundation, The Kirk Morrison Foundation, made it possible for the kids to enjoy an evening with some Raiders players while going shopping for some holiday gifts. The reason for that is because Morrison attended the same youth center when he was a kid.
"Regardless of what goes on the field during football season, I always circle this date on the calendar because it is something that I really look forward to," said Morrison when addressing the group while they enjoyed a snack before getting started with the shopping extravaganza. After introducing himself, Morrison proceeded to introduce his teammates.
Linebackers Thomas Howard, Sam Williams, Slade Norris and David Nixon were on hand. DE Richard Seymour stopped by after participating in the Toys for Tots program at Southland Mall in Hayward, Calif., earlier in the evening. After the formalities, Morrison and the rest of the players were presented with hand painted football bowls, along with some handmade "thank you" cards, by the kids from their art class as a sign of appreciation for him and all the players.
LB Thomas Howard and DE Richard Seymour pose for a photo with youngsters during the Shop With a Jock event.Photo by Allan Yuan.
For the kids, it was a chance to meet some of the Raider players up close, share some of their experiences on and off the field and get to know another side of them. "I liked that I got a chance to talk to Mr. Kirk and laugh at his jokes. We visited the clothing, shoes, toys and then we paid for everything," said Najae, one of the girls who along with Dominique had the chance to shop with Morrison. "He knows what girls like, like shoes," added Dominique.
Each player, along with three to four kids with their $100 dollar gift cards in hand, roamed the aisles of the store browsing through the many possibilities - MP3 players, clothing, toys and some sporting goods, especially footballs.
After choosing their items, the kids and players headed to the registers and then had their picture taken with the player that accompanied them during the shopping. Once everyone checked out, a group photo was taken and commemorative t-shirts were autographed.
The East Oakland Youth Development Center's Regina Jackson was more than happy to see how the kids enjoyed themselves and received something that otherwise would not have been possible this holiday season. Over the three years of Morrison's involvement with the youth center there have been about 200 kids who have had the chance to meet Morrison and his teammates.
"He is a real a example to the kids of what the future can look like and so what we try to teach the young people is that if they work hard in school and display good character in education they can earn an opportunity to come out here and spend some time with Kirk," Jackson explained. "The most exciting part is to see how happy they are, getting to know him and getting to shop for things that they might never get."
After having worked for 15 years at the center, Jackson is happy that Morrison reached out to a place that gave him so much as a kid. Jackson added, "He joined us when we celebrated 30 years at the center and he is part of our book. He is one of our success stories."