Kansas Men's Basketball Holiday Shops for Local Needy Families

Dec. 13, 2012

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LAWRENCE, Kan. – The Kansas men’s basketball team took a break from final exams to go holiday shopping for 17 Lawrence area families Thursday night.

KU players, coaching staff, managers, family and friends scoured a local Wal-Mart to find “Wish List” gifts for the families. Former KU standout Roger Morningstar works with the Lawrence area Salvation Army in organizing the annual event.

The annual shopping trip for needy Lawrence families, which was sponsored this year by the Assist Foundation, began in 1994, Morningstar said. The event has become one of the many charity activities the KU men’s basketball team enjoys.

“This is a way to give back to the community,” KU senior All-American candidate Jeff Withey said. “It’s a privilege for us to be able to do this. It’s something that we look forward to every year.”

Each year, the team meets in the Wal-Mart lobby, and Morningstar gives each Jayhawk a list of gifts for a specific family and a budget. The players, along with coaches’ wives and others, then shop throughout the store. Gifts range from clothes, bedding and cookware to toys.

“It’s really fun when you get a little kid (on the wish list),” Withey said. “I remember when I was a little kid and when I opened presents and I saw toys, I was always happy. The best thing you can do (here) is buy toys.”

KU players and staff spent more than an hour finding gifts for each family.

“This provides a Christmas for families that have gone through some hard times right now,” KU head coach Bill Self said. “This is great for our guys because they take money, budget it and go out and shop based on what the families’ wants and needs are. This time of year, an opportunity to give back makes you feel better.”

No. 9 Kansas (7-1) returns to action Saturday night against Belmont (6-2) at 6 p.m. in Allen Fieldhouse. The game will be televised on ESPNU.