OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (CHRISTIAN EXAMINER) — As Christmas approaches, many Christian athletes have been busy spreading Christmas cheer by serving others in the name of Jesus. From the NFL to MLB and the NBA, current and retired favorites, along with athletic organization and others, have taken extra steps to focus outward this season.
Russell Westbrook (NBA, Oklahoma City Thunder) and his Why Not? Foundation hosted a Christmas party for homeless children at City Rescue Mission in Oklahoma City. He was decked out in a Santa hat as he handed out gifts.
Mark Schlereth (NFL, retired) partnered with Farmland Food and Food Bank of the Rockies in Denver to fight hunger this holiday season in a unique way. Until December 24, for every person who pledges on social media to leave bacon for Santa this Christmas Eve, Farmland plans to donate one pound of protein to the local Denver-area food bank.
Troy Polamalu (NFL, retired) tweeted: "For people who have been homeless, coming up with deposit and first month's rent is a real struggle." He is sending fans to focusnorthamerica.org/christmas to give a life-changing gift in someone's name. Focus North America is a Christian organization that fights poverty.
The Moyer Foundation (retired MLB pitcher Jamie Moyer) posted a photo on Twitter of a girl named Taylor, saying: "After her father died, camp taught Taylor to smile again" and encouraged people to help children like her through its foundation. The Moyer Foundation creates and funds camps for children who are suffering with bereavement, or are affected by addiction in their families.
Drew Brees (NFL, New Orleans Saints) will be sharing his faith at a Christmas Eve worship service at Jefferson Performing Arts Center in New Orleans, hosted by Vintage Church.
Russell Wilson (NFL, Seattle Seahawks) teamed up with his girlfriend, singer Ciara, and actor Chris Pratt to visit patients at Children's Hospital in Seattle, passing out Kindles and toys.
Louis Murphy, Jr. (NFL, Tampa Bay Buccaneers) held an ugly Christmas sweater party with all proceeds going to support 1st Downs 4 Life, his non-profit organization that teaches youth fundamental football skills while also providing them with important personal tools.
Vontae Davis (NFL, Indianapolis Colts) partnered with Hands of Hope in Indianapolis to provide a Christmas shopping experience for 21 foster children.
Greg Jennings (NFL, Miami Dolphins) partnered with six police officers in Minneapolis to provide gifts for children. KSTP reported that Jennings provided thousands of dollars for the gifts. "We're blessed to be a blessing to others!" Jennings tweeted.
Jeremy Affeldt (MLB, retired) has been conducting his "12 Days of Christmas" giveaways. Tim Tebow's foundation did something similar. And (MLB, Chicago Cubs) have been busy with their "18 Days of Giveaways."
Drew Stanton (NFL, Arizona Cardinals) visited women and children at the Sojourner Center in Phoenix. The facility provides comprehensive services to domestic abuse victims.
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Robert Griffin III (NFL, Washington Redskins) is encouraging people to pledge support for a disabled veteran and his family. He is asking people to pledge a certain amount of money per point that Baylor (his alma mater) scores on December 29 in the Russell Athletic Bowl, or to make a flat donation. The Family of 3 Foundation (Griffin's foundation) will match donations up to $25,000 raised through this campaign.
Finally, the Pana High School Fellowship of Christian Athletes in Illinois is working to make sure elementary school children in their community have something to open on Christmas Day. They are handing out toys, coloring books and gift packs that include toothbrushes and toothpaste.
Leigh Anne Tuohy (mother of NFL player, Michael Oher, Carolina Panthers) captured the spirit of the season in her tweet: "We are quickly approaching December 25th! Remember Acts 20:35 'It is more blessed to GIVE than to receive' Be a giver even if it's your time."