Spreading holiday cheer
STAMFORD, Conn. -- More than 500 of our fans lined the streets outside Tommy K's Vitamins in Stamford, Conn., Monday, while Intercontinental Champion Jeff Hardy, Cody Rhodes and Diva Mickie James made their arrival in grand fashion — riding in United States Marines vehicles completely filled with toys. But the day wasn't just about autographs or photo-ops; it was about coming out for a great cause. (See photos from the event)
Each year, WWE donates millions of dollars worth of products to various charities. Initiated this holiday season by a $1,000 personal contribution by Chairman Vincent K. McMahon, World Wrestling Entertainment and the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program have teamed up to provide toys for needy children throughout the Connecticut area. The stop in Stamford was only part of an incredibly busy day for the three Raw Superstars, who later headed to Bridgeport, Conn., for Raw's 15th Anniversary Spectacular at the Arena at Harbor Yard. Nevertheless, it was an especially rewarding experience for each of them.
"Events like this make me proud to be a part of WWE, because they are so charitable," said Jeff Hardy. "To create a smile on the face of a kid who's not that fortunate is very inspirational and motivational. It's a very warm feeling to be able to do this."
Thousands of toys, ranging from Barbie playsets to Hot Wheels and (of course) WWE merchandise, packed toy bins to the brim, while ear-to-ear smiles filled the faces of our fans waiting in line. George Ducanic, coordinator for Toys for Tots in the Stamford area for 15 years, was thrilled with the turnout.
"It's a great thing for Stamford-area kids, because there are going to be a lot of toys," Ducanic stated. "We were very short on the number [of toys] we had before this event, so this gives us a big boost here in Stamford."
One Superstar had an especially personal reason for lending a hand to charities that help out those who are less fortunate. Diva Mickie James stressed the importance of organizations such as Toys for Tots, remembering how charities helped her family out in a time of need.
"It's really awesome to me that I can help give kids toys. When I was about 6 years old, our house burned down, and all of our presents were in there," James explained as she looked at our smiling fans waiting in line. "Luckily, through organizations like churches and Toys for Tots, we were able to have a Christmas."
For Cody Rhodes -- who'd go on to Raw in Bridgeport that night and capture the World Tag Team Championship -- riding in the United States Marines vehicles and seeing all the fans lined up outside the shop was an incredible feeling, but not the bottom line.
"This really is a win-win situation," he said as he signed another autograph for one of our fans. "It's one of those times where you know you are doing the right thing. I haven't done any Christmas shopping myself yet, and knowing that the first gifts I'm going to be a part of giving are for kids who are less fortunate, it's amazing. That's really the holiday season."
For more information or to donate to Toys for Tots, visit its official Web site.