🏀 Jayhawks Holiday Shop for Local Families
LAWRENCE, Kan. – As the holiday season draws near and the Stephen F. Austin game approaching, the Kansas men’s basketball team took advantage of the chance to do holiday shopping for Lawrence area families Thursday night.
KU players, basketball staff, student managers, family members and friends as they assembled at a local Wal-Mart to find “Wish List” gifts local families. Former KU standout Roger Morningstar, and his wife Linda, began the tradition in the 1990s and they continue to work with the Salvation Army of Douglas County in organizing the annual event.
One special participant this year was Kansas TEAM IMPACT teammate JP Bemberger of Overland Park, Kansas, and his parents. Through TEAM IMPACT, which connects teams with children that have chronic illness, Bemberger joined the KU squad in November 2020 and has participated in many activities during his time on the squad.
“This is a great event that we do every year with COVID holding us back last year,” KU assistant coach Norm Roberts said. “It’s a time where our guys can go out and do something for the community and help some families that are in need. They enjoy it. They take a lot of pride in it in helping these families get what they need and want for Christmas.”
The Jayhawk shoppers met in the store lobby before Morningstar gave each participant a list of gifts for a specific family and a budget in which to maintain. The players, along with coaches’ wives and other shopping helpers, then broke loose throughout the store.
“There are things that are bigger than basketball and this is one where we can be out in the community and give back,” senior David McCormack said. “This is a time to spread some cheer and joy. We look forward to doing this.”
Gifts ranged from every member of the family, including pots and pans, tool sets, coats, blankets and – of course – toys. Players had a blast finding the best superheroes and picking out the perfect pair of shoes.
As each list was completed, the participants brought their loot to the registers to have it rang up and loaded on the truck that will soon deliver it to each family. The smiles on the faces of each player was a telling sign of the pride felt to have spent the evening with a worthy cause.