Several sports figures have been lending a helping hand for the holiday season. In Boston, Shanahan & Goldstein note Patriots Owner Robert Kraft, QB Tom Brady, WR Wes Welker and other players “joined the team’s cheerleading squad at Gillette Stadium last night for the Pats’ annual Children’s Holiday Party, a festive affair for 250 needy kids from around New England” (BOSTON GLOBE, 12/14). Brady wore “a hollowed out top hat for a marshmallow-tossing contest” last night as “more than 250 kiddies from the Salvation Army and other local community centers played games” (BOSTON HERALD, 12/14)....Bengals QB Andy Dalton was “part of a group of four Bengals players who surprised 25 underprivileged children during the Shop with a Jock program at the Dick’s Sporting Goods” in Cincinnati. The children “received $120 gift cards from Dick’s Sporting Goods and were paired with a player” (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 12/14)....In Green Bay, Hannah O’Brien notes about “80 children with cancer spent Monday night” with eight Packers players. The players “played games and took photos with about 300 people during the annual Families of Children with Cancer holiday party at St. Mark's Lutheran Church” (GREENBAYPRESSGAZETTE.com, 12/13).
SK8 TO IT: The Boston Bruins Foundation and the Cam Neely Foundation for Cancer Care beginning in February are hosting the third annual “Neely SK8 Challenge,” a skate-a-thon presented by Liberty Mutual. The fundraiser will help raise funds for children battling cancer and their families (Bruins). Meanwhile, the Bruins also will purchase “popular toys, games and action figures at Target in Woburn for the team’s annual Holiday Toy Shopping Event” headed up by LW Patrice Bergeron (BOSTON HERALD, 12/14).
GIVING BACK: In St. Petersburg, Marissa Lang notes Lightning Owner Jeff Vinik “jump-started the team's Community Hero program.” The team "gives a different nonprofit $50,000 at each" of their 41 home games during the ‘11-12 season. That equates to “$2,050,000 in just one season, and only a fraction of the $10 million Vinik and wife, Penny, have pledged to local charities.” Lightning employees also “have pledged to volunteer 100 hours each over the course of the year” (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 12/14)….Yankees P CC Sabathia on Monday night was at the MLB Fan Cave, where he “was Santa for kids from the Boys and Girls Clubs” (MLB.com, 12/12).