Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes held his fourth annual holiday toy drive at Piada Italian Street Food in Edina to benefit patients at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital.
EDINA, Minn. — The holiday season is bigger than team alliances or favorite players.
It's about giving back and helping those in need, especially youth hospital patients.
That was the case Tuesday night when Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes held his fourth annual holiday toy drive at Piada Italian Street Food in Edina to benefit patients at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital.
Teri and Leo Dorsey showed up two hours before the event started and were the first ones in a line that almost snaked out the door.
The couple, who live in Iowa, root for a certain green and gold team in the NFC North. But they couldn't pass up a chance to donate a football, book and a doll to children and snag an autograph from the friendly Rhodes.
"We're big football fans, let's put it that way," Leo Dorsey said with a smile. "But it's all good … we have no problem giving this donation to help out.
"We really enjoy this," he added. "We think when any of the players who volunteer their time to out and do a benefit like this, it really means a lot. We talked to him briefly … he asked [Teri] about her Christmas shopping, so it makes it a little bit more personal."
Rhodes, who collected more than 150 toys, said he welcomes anyone and everyone who wants to help children.
"It means a lot. It wasn't that they only wanted to get a signature, they wanted to help the cause," Rhodes said. "It means a lot that they're buying in to what I represent, and I really appreciate them for being here.
"From the first year I've done it to now, it's grown a lot," Rhodes later added. "It shows how much of an impact we're making."
Vikings fans of all ages showed up to support a good cause and meet the Pro Bowl cornerback.
"I love coming out and supporting the Vikings. I'm a huge Vikings fan since I was born and raised in Minnesota," said 18-year-old Jake Adams said. "Rhodes is one of my favorite players, if not my favorite player, so it's cool seeing him.
"And these events are for a great cause," Adams added.
Adams and Rhodes shared a lighthearted moment as the high school senior's mom called in the middle of him trying to get a photo with the player.
"She understood," said Adams, who donated an action figure and toy police set. "She's a Vikings fan."
While Rhodes enjoyed interacting with all fans, he took a special interest in children that showed up. He had them sit next to him for photos and made sure they left with a smile on their face.
"I just love interacting with the kids," Rhodes said. "You never know how you can enlighten them or brighten their day.
It's a great thing, having a child of my own, you can put a smile on that child's face, and that's probably something they'll always remember," Rhodes added.
In addition to the toys donated Tuesday, Rhodes will also go shopping for more toys on his own time later this week.
He then plans to surprise dozens of kids at University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital next week with bags and bags of brand-new toys.
It'll be another chance for the Vikings cornerback to give back this holiday season.
"That alone is just priceless. It just moves you," Rhodes said about giving back to the hospital patients. "Every time I leave that hospital, I learn something and appreciate life more.
"Those people are fighting. Walking around the hospital makes me appreciate life more," Rhodes added. "The kids there, they aren't able to leave and celebrate Christmas with their families the way they want to. It's the little things like that that people take for granted."