Gulls Participate In 25th Annual Shop With A Jock
Event hosted by Junior Seau Foundation pairs child with an athlete for a night of shopping and holiday funDec 12, 2019
By AJ Manderichio/SanDiegoGulls.com
With a slight chill in the air – and plenty of hot chocolate available – the crowd gathered at Target in Mission Valley couldn’t help but feel the holiday spirit.
The San Diego Gulls joined with several professional and amateur athletes from the area to participate in the 25th annual Shop With A Jock Presented by the Junior Seau Foundation at Target in Mission Valley. The Junior Seau Foundation partners with Target, corporate sponsors and individual donors to take underprivileged children in need from the Boys and Girls Club of San Diego shopping to find holiday gifts for their families. Each of the 200 children are given a $100 gift certificate from the Junior Seau Foundation to shop for gifts for their loved ones, with each child paired with a Gulls player to while they shop.
It's a must-attend event for the Gulls, who continued their partnership for a fourth straight season.
“This event is fun for the players because they get to shop with the kids, pick out gifts that these kids may not otherwise get to pick out,” said Gulls Director of Community Relations Melissa Werman. “It’s really about the moment, not only for our players to be supporting the community, but for the kids to have this experience with them as professional athletes as someone they look up to.”
After pairing up with a child, the players walked through a special entrance inside Target, greeted by a chorus of carolers singing Christmas carols. After posing for a quick photo, each Gull and their new partner walked through a high-five tunnel of Target employees. From there, they ran around the various departments inside Target, grabbing everything from toys to clothing – and even a vacuum cleaner.
Scott Moldenhauer, participating in the event for the first time, walked away impressed with the selflessness of Roberto, the child he paired with for the event.
“I thought it was a lot of fun. I thought the coolest thing was seeing just how they’re buying for other people, they’re thinking about what to get their mom, dad and sister,” he said following Shop With A Jock. “It was just really cool to see that. Giving to others is what this holiday is about, and for a kid so young to be doing that, it’s really nice to see.”
Goaltender Anthony Stolarz, another first-time participant, immediately formed a bond with his partner, Martin.
“We were talking early on and hit it off early on because we both like video games and both play Fortnite so we bonded over that,” Stolarz said following the event. “He was talking about how he didn’t have a Nintendo Switch, so I thought it would be a great gesture to surprise him with that. He was a little hesitant at first and opened up to the idea. He was so excited to show his friends and it was great to see.”
The Gulls participation reflects the organization’s mission to serve the San Diego and Southern California community through a variety of charitable fundraisers, educational programs and outreach activities, and strive to be actively involved in the local community, with a dedicated involvement from players, coaches and the staff.
The San Diego Gulls Foundation serves as the team’s main charitable beneficiary with its mission to facilitate and support programs that produce positive change for children and families throughout San Diego. That support comes from a variety of initiatives, but most importantly its broadening access to the sport of hockey, addressing the health and wellness needs of the San Diego community, and supporting the very community that supports the hockey club.
To date, the Gulls donated nearly $400,000 to various charities and programs in San Diego since the team arrived in the fall of 2015 four years ago.
On this night, the focus wasn’t on the money spent or the new presents acquired. For the Gulls, the opportunity to connect with the community – and give their time to an important cause – left a lasting impression on the team.
“It’s great to come out into the community and give back,” Stolarz said while reflecting on his experience. “Walking around the store, seeing the kids faces light up when they put gifts in their bags and when they were passing friends and showing each other what they got for their families. It was great to see.”