Enhanced COVID-19 protocols implemented by the NFL on Dec. 17 limited the opportunity of in-person interactions and holiday events, postponing some efforts by Vikings players. The below events occurred before the changes went into place.
In both of their first seasons in Minnesota, Patrick Peterson and rookie Christian Darrisaw looked for ways to give back during the holiday season.
Peterson brought his annual "Shop with a Jock" holiday event to Minnesota, and rookie Christian Darrisaw initiated a similar event with his first opportunity, teaming up with Big Brothers Big Sisters Twin Cities.
Patrick Peterson Hosts 50 Youth
The Patrick Peterson Foundation for Success was established in 2012 and extended its work to the Twin Cities this year.
Peterson, Vikings teammates Tyler Conklin and Irv Smith, Jr., and former LSU teammate Jordan Jefferson walked the aisles and granted smiles to 50 Boys & Girls Clubs members as each young person was provided a gift card to pick out $200 of merchandise. The selections by the young people ranged from toys and games to electronics, fitness sets and sports equipment.
Vikings CB Patrick Peterson and teammates granted smiles to 50 Boys & Girls Clubs members as each young person was provided a shopping spree.
After helping his group of young people fill carts, Peterson posted up at the register to interact with the youth as they went through the check-out line.
"This is my favorite event that I'm able to do every year with my foundation," Peterson said. "To see the smiles on their faces and the memories they're able to create is a joy for me every year."
Boys & Girls Clubs of the Twin Cities Senior Director of Corporate and Public Relations Tim Schober said it was great to see members from all of the clubs enjoying some togetherness and "grow in the holiday spirit."
"Events like this really help reinforce what we're doing, so we have a whole host of academic programming we do," Schober said. "They come in, do a lot of literacy work with us, mathematics work. We do a lot of STEM activities, so being able to have something fun like this that we can use as a reward really backs up what we're doing. It helps us keep our kids engaged."
Darrisaw Makes Big Difference for 'Littles'
As 9-year-old Jamal pushed a full shopping cart toward the exit, he turned to say goodbye to Darrisaw.
"Thank you, thank you, thank you," Jamal said to the left tackle.
Darrisaw smiled, knowing his first hosted community event in the Twin Cities was a smashing success.
The first-round pick partnered with Big Brothers Big Sisters Twin Cities, paying for a shopping spree for five Littles who were accompanied by their Bigs.
Darrisaw gave each Little a $500 gift card to spend, and he also sent them home with an additional $500 gift card for future use.
"It's just a great feeling to come out here and give back," Darrisaw said. "Not all kids are fortunate to get a bunch of stuff, so I was hoping this would put a smile on their faces.
"Walking up here and meeting the matches, they were like, 'We can get anything?!' It's just a great feeling," he added.
Vikings T Christian Darrisaw partnered with Big Brothers Big Sisters Twin Cities and paid for a holiday shopping spree for Littles who were accompanied by their Bigs.
Pat Sukhum, the CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters Twin Cities, said the organization was appreciative of Darrisaw's generous gesture.
"This is an incredible experience that Christian and the Vikings have brought to these matches," Sukhum said. "We are just thrilled … to have something like this that is community-oriented where we can get out and laugh and smile."
Once the five Littles — Amalinalli, DeAnthony, Emilio, Jamal and Mari —were told of the surprise, they each took a cart with their name on it and cruised through the aisles.
Jamal picked up a few gifts for his family, as well as a toy racecar, books and candy.
Emilio, a 14-year-old Little, picked up some essentials such as clothes, but also chose a drone and an Xbox.
"It means a lot," Emilio said of Darrisaw's gesture. "I'm kind of at a loss for words, I guess."
Emilio's Big Brother, Ryan, added: "He was pretty pumped. Sometimes kids are more excited than they will tell you."