NOTRE DAME, Indiana — In a year that has seen many events canceled or postponed, one important event was still held as Notre Dame Football’s ninth-annual Shop With A Player day took place Wednesday.
The initiative, pairing Irish football student-athletes with local youth from the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi and Big Brothers/Big Sisters with the help of local law enforcement, aims to provide children with gifts during the holiday season. Traditionally facilitated as a shopping day, due to health guidelines, gift bags including gift cards and winter gear were gathered together and given to each participant, and football student-athletes autographed footballs for each child with a personalized message.
“We are very pleased that we were able to continue the Shop With A Player program this year,” said Matthew Wesaw, Pokagon Tribal Council Chairman and CEO of the Pokagon Gaming Authority. “Although the players weren’t able to take the children shopping as in years past, I’m sure the children were thrilled to receive their gift cards, winter gear and autographed footballs. We sincerely appreciate the support of everyone involved to continue this important tradition.”
In total, 111 children participated in Shop With A Player, made possible due to major contributions from the Kelly Cares Foundation, the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi and its Four Winds Casino.
“It was unfortunate that we were not able to shop with the kids in person this year,” said Ian Book, graduate student quarterback for the Irish. “It is always such a fun event, but we are so grateful that we were still able to put some smiles on the kids’ faces with the gift bags and hopefully make their holiday season a little brighter.”