Each summer, former Drake University basketball star Jeff Hill holds a free basketball camp that serves almost 200 youth at the John R. Grubb Community YMCA, located in one of Des Moines’ most economically distressed neighborhoods. A few years ago, he decided to expand his community activism by helping out neighborhood families at the holiday time, too.
On December 21, 2018, Hill – and many friends, volunteers and business donors - hosted the fourth annual Christmas Celebration at the Grubb Y. He distributed 150 free turkeys on a first-come, first-served basis.
Fifteen families, who were recommended by area churches and social service agencies, also received food, clothing and toys to help overcome any hardships they may have endured during the year. Each family was able to create a wish list based on their particular wants and needs for the holiday season. Community partners were then selected and matched to the families.
“When they saw all this stuff, a lot of them broke down in tears because when I said I was going to sponsor a family, they didn’t know I was going to sponsor them this heavy. We’re taking care of the whole Christmas – mommy, daddy, food – all kinds of stuff,” said Hill.
The event was a holiday celebration to remember! Thanks to the generosity of many business and individual sponsors, families were able to see Santa and The Grinch and enjoy each other’s company over great food and music.
“The Grubb YMCA family feels so honored to be part of such a unique and special community event each year,” Charles Mercer, Executive Director of the Grubb Y shared, “We’re more than just a place to exercise. We are truly a place that’s for all and serves the needs of those in the community.”