Jayhawks Spread Holiday Cheer with Annual Shopping Trip

LAWRENCE, Kan. – As finals week draws to a close and the Georgetown game sits two days away, the Kansas men’s basketball team took advantage of the chance to go holiday shopping for Lawrence area families Thursday night.
The Jayhawks were joined by head coach Bill Self along with the rest of the coaching staff, managers, family members and friends as they joined forces at a local Wal-Mart to find “Wish List” gifts for the families. Former KU standout Roger Morningstar began the tradition in the early 1990s and works with the Lawrence area Salvation Army in organizing the annual event.
One of the team’s favorite charity events each year, the annual shopping trip benefits Lawrence families and helps make their holidays a little brighter. Along with Morningstars, the event is sponsored in part by Self’s Assists Foundation and other local charities and fundraisers.
“Linda and Roger Morningstar came up with this many years before we got here,” Self said. “Since we’ve got here, we’ve been able to continue it and get our foundation involved as well. It’s such a good cause and certainly during this time of year, we have so many things to feel blessed about. It’s so nice to be able to do something for others. Plus, it’s good for our guys. I know they enjoy doing it.”
A heart-warming tradition, each year the team meets in the Wal-Mart lobby while Morningstar gives each Jayhawk a list of gifts for a specific family and a budget in which to maintain. The players, along with coaches’ wives and others, then shop throughout the store.
On Thursday, gifts ranged from skillets and waffle makers to new coats and shoes and – of course – lots of toys.
“We always have a competition to see who’s getting the best toys for the kids,” junior guard Naadir Tharpe said. “It’s a great time shopping for them, plus it’s a great time for our team to bond. Since my first year here, Niko (Roberts) has always tried to compete with me (and pick out better presents), but clearly everyone knows ‘Naa’ loves the kids.”
Two hours later, the present hunters brought their loot to the registers to have it rang up and loaded on the truck that will deliver it on Friday morning. All smiles, the Jayhawks were more than happy to wrap up their night knowing they participated in a great cause.
“It’s always fun to have a night like this and really see how fortunate me and the guys on the team are and the people involved with the program,” freshman guard Andrew Wiggins said. “We love giving back and putting a smile on their face. It brings a lot of joy to us.”
No. 18/19 Kansas (7-3) returns to Allen Fieldhouse Saturday morning against Georgetown (7-2) at 11 a.m. The game will be televised on ESPN.
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