NINE-YEAR-OLD Umar Ransom looked at the bike rack at the South Philadelphia Wal-Mart. He knew exactly which bike to pick out. A pink-and-white Barbie bike was his choice. Not for him, but for his sister. When he needed help getting the bike off the shelf, someone familiar was there to help him: Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson.
Jackson was the host of "Shop with Jocks" a program sponsored by Wal-Mart. Around 40 children from Youth Services Inc. and several local families in need were invited to participate in the event yesterday. Each child got $100 to spend on whatever they set their hearts on.
"We really just wanted to do something for the holiday season," Jackson said. "We figured that right now is a crucial time for a lot of kids and families that are not able to go out and treat themselves, so we really wanted to be a help in the community. We wanted to come out, close, in the inner city, right near where we play and practice at. It feels good. I am happy to come out and see the kids and put a smile on their face."
Store manager Frank Pellicori said: "We wanted to be partners with DeSean Jackson and with Wal-Mart, and be part of the community and help out. This is a great day for the community of Philadelphia."
Elijah Freeman, another 9-year-old from Philadelphia, and Umar got to walk around the store and shop with Jackson. Umar got in the Christmas spirit early, buying the bicycle and a doll for his sister.
"I did it because I love my sister," he said.
All 40 children in attendance got to walk around with a member of the Eagles. A handful of other team members were there to help the children, including Zach Ertz, Earl Wolff and Michael Vick. Jackson addressed the whole group before the shopping began.
"I want to give them a message," Jackson said. "When I come shop, usually I don't always get the most expensive thing. Sometimes you have to stay on a budget. At the same time, you want to get what they want and give yourself what you deserve, especially for working hard and going out there and doing great things."
All of the players advised the children as they helped them pick out their favorite toys. Vick even preached the importance of addition to a young boy he was helping. Jackson said he believes the kids deserve to be rewarded for their work in the classroom, and remembers when he would be treated that way.
"Paying off for the hard work that they do as far as school and good grades and all of that good stuff," Jackson said. "I remember when I was younger, my mom used to do some special things, and my dad would do some special things when I had good grades. I just showed them how hard I worked, and that was a good thing. As long as I can tell these kids to keep doing good things."