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Dolphins, Petland Partner To Spread Holiday Joy

The Dolphins have been out and about in the community to make this Christmas as enjoyable and memorable as possible for a lot of kids throughout South Florida.

Over the past week, the organization has teamed up with FOOTBALL UNITES™ to take part in several events all designed to bring holiday happiness in the community.

Perhaps the biggest event took place last Tuesday at the Baptist Health Training Facility at Nova Southeastern University when a group of players joined Miami Dolphins Cheerleaders, T.D. and the Miami Dolphins Women’s Organization to host 150 students for their annual holiday toy event presented by Petland.

Elementary school students from Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties received holiday toys and participated in activities including creating teddy bears, decorating cookies, playing games, taking photos as well as petting puppies provided by Petland.

Among the players involved were Cornell Armstrong, Kalen Ballage, Jalen Davis, John Denney, Mike Gesicki, Connor Hilland, Mike Hull, Jamiyus Pittman, Jason Sanders, Kenny Stills, Durham Smythe and Vincent Taylor.

More than 1,000 kids from the Dolphins partner schools in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties have participated in the event over the years. This year, Dolphins players, coaching staff and Petland purchased holiday toys for preselected students from Bel-Air, Pinewood, Rolling Green, Sunshine and Scott Lake Elementary School.

“It was a privilege and pleasure to team up with our Miami Dolphins to make the holidays a little brighter for children and families in our community,” Petland Florida Owner Luis Marquez said. “Like the Dolphins, Miami is our home. We care very much about our neighbors, but especially about the kids who wait all year for the holidays to arrive.”

“My favorite part is everything specifically the bounce houses, this has been really awesome and thank you for the presents,” Scott Lake Elementary Student London Wright said.

But that was just one example of the Dolphins spreading joy during the holidays last week.

Defensive tackle Akeem Spence and members of the Dolphins front office joined the Miami Gardens Police Department to distribute gifts to families for the holidays.

Kenny Stills was joined by fellow wide receivers Leonte Carroo and Malcolm Lewis and members of the Dolphins front office staff when he hosted his Holiday Toy Event at the YWCA in Miami. Along with distributing gifts, the group played games.

Then there was an event where Bobby McCain, Walt Aikens and Jerome Baker, along with Miami Dolphins Cheerleaders and front office personnel participated in the Santa Stop event with the Fort Lauderdale Police Department to pull over fans and surprise them with tickets, jerseys and gifts. Fans who had on Fins gear or decals were pulled over and received Dolphins items.

Defensive end William Hayes worked with the North Miami Beach Police Department to purchase holiday gifts for families.

And then there was running back Kenyan Drake, who stopped by the Boys & Girls Club to deliver presents and visit with the kids during the holiday season.

Ballage likely represented the sentiments of all his teammates when he spoke about the significance of the holiday toy event at the Dolphins training facility.

“I remember going to events like this when I was a kid and it really made my Christmas special,” Ballage said. “It’s my favorite part of the year every year. We try to get out there and reach the kids and have them look up to us as role models. Seeing the kids’ eyes get all big when we pulled the presents out of the bags seeing them get whatever it is they asked for, I think that was the most important thing.”

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