Jaguars help kids with their holiday shopping

Julius Thomas, teammates take part in Holiday Pass N' Play event at Target

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Several Jacksonville Jaguars players went holiday shopping Tuesday evening with 50 children from across Northeast Florida to help them find the perfect gifts for their family members. 

The Jaguars Foundation, in partnership with the DuBow Family Foundation, welcomed children from the MaliVai Washington Youth Foundation and The Bridge of Northeast Florida to the annual Holiday Pass N’ Play shopping event at the Target on Monument Road. 

Tight end Julius Thomas, defensive tackle Malik Jackson, safety Johnathan Cyprien, running back Denard Robinson and several other Jaguars players and volunteers assisted kids in shopping for their families.

"I just got to learn what an accessory set is. Apparently, it's when the necklace and the earrings come together. So, five minutes in and I'm already learning new things, so it's going to be fun," Thomas said. 

For Thomas and his teammates, giving back was nothing new. But when it came to Christmas shopping for the families of  budding teenagers, Thomas was out of his league.

He helped 14-year-old Nykia Brown stick to her $100 budget as she looked for gifts for her mother, twin sister and brother. In the process, he learned about the benefits of matte lipstick. 

"That one dries up faster. This one stays on for 16 hours," Nykia explained to him. 

Thomas and the other players went the extra mile to help the kids find the perfect gifts. But more impressive were the values they instilled in the teenagers around them as they reflected on the true reason for the season during the shopping trip.

"Family comes first and to never forget that and don't always put it on yourself. Think about others first," Nykia said.

Thomas said, for him, the most rewarding part of the Christmas season is seeing other people's joy.

"There is no better feeling than getting a cousin or niece something and seeing how excited they are tearing open that wrapper," Thomas said. "To be here with them and just helping to enrich the shopping for their family in the Christmas spirit, it's good for us."