About 300 youngsters, kindergartners to third graders, sat as quietly as they could (which wasn’t very) Wednesday afternoon at the Lockhart Elementary School auditorium.
They had been cautioned by their teachers to watch their p’s and q’s if they wanted their special Christmas treat.
They did their best and soon were rewarded.
A very tall stranger, Cedric Cobb of Youth Lifeline America, an organization that has partnered with Southland Gaming of the V.I. for the Toys for Life program, told the youngsters they would soon meet football legend Roland Williams of the St. Louis Rams, who won the Superbowl in 1999.
The kids didn’t seem too impressed until the very, very tall Williams—dressed in a football jersey with YLA across the front, topped with a Santa hat—began bouncing about in front of them, as a phalanx of Charlotte Amalie High School seniors lined up to pass out the treats.
Williams had questions for the kids: “How many of you want to be healthy and strong? Does anyone know how many minutes you should exercise a day?
“We have gifts for you that will help you burn calories and be healthy and strong,” Williams said, but beforehand the youngsters were asked to take a pledge.
“Put your right hand over your heart and repeat after me,” Williams said: ‘I pledge to play with my Toy for Life, or any other toy I may have, 60 minutes every day so I can live a healthier life and I will get my family and friends to play, too.”
The gifts were balls—footballs, volley balls, kick balls, basketballs, dodge balls—presented in a handsome black canvas bag donated by Diamonds International.
Shaine Gaspard, Southland executive vice president, was as busy as Williams, overseeing the project.
He said this was the company’s first time in the toy distribution, which has been ongoing all week on all three islands. “We have blown up and distributed 5,000 balls!,” he said with a well-earned sigh.
“We worked out of Yacht Haven Grande, with volunteers from CAHS and other schools helping,” he said. “We contacted YLA because it is such a good organization, really helping kids, and they partnered with us in the project.”
Williams founded YLA in 1999, realizing his childhood dream to harness the powerful influence of sports helping children growing up in a healthy environment.
The continuing schedule:
–Thursday – 10 a.m. to 3p.m. Distribution to St. Croix schools.
–Friday – 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. Celebration reception at Yacht Haven Grande.
For more information, contact Cobb at 636-279-0004.