Almost all families have holiday traditions. Some families will gather at grandma’s house to open presents. Some will spend their holiday on a cruise. And some families organize an annual gift drive. The latter is how the Peek family spends their holiday season. For roughly the past 20 years, Scott “Skipper” Peek and his immediate family (his wife, kids, and grandchildren) have been spending their holiday giving back to their community.
The Peek family is no stranger to generosity. Skipper—a once high school and college football star—instilled the “It’s better to give than receive” sentiment in his kids from a very young age. As a child, Skipper’s oldest daughter Ali Wilbur, remembers her parents adopting families through their church and other organizations during the holiday season.
Now, every year, the entire Peek family spends a day during the Christmas season gathering athletic balls and donating them to the Metropolitan Ministries, an organization that provides practical solutions for poor and homeless families and individuals throughout Tampa Bay. However, neither Ali nor her dad remembers how this annual tradition came to be. Ali suspects that it’s a combination of her father’s love for sports and his generosity for others that drove him to come up with the idea of donating sports balls. Skipper’s philosophy is that if you give a child a ball, you can occupy a whole neighborhood.
“The life lessons learned through sports aren’t lost on us. My Dad really takes joy in sharing them with others.” -Ali Wilbur
How Does the Family’s Annual Donation Work?
Every year around the holidays, Skipper chooses a day to round up their family and carry out their annual donation. The family goes to the local sporting goods store (in recent years it’s been Dick’s Sporting Goods) and fills up their shopping carts with as many sports balls as they can fit. Ali says that they focus on gathering athletic balls for sports that do not require additional equipment.
After the family has filled their shopping carts to the brim with footballs, basketballs, and soccer balls, they head to the front and check out. While Ali did not reveal how much her family spends each year, she stated that they generally spend a few thousand dollars. Skipper covered the price in the past, but as his children got older and started families of their own, they’ve started contributing their own dollars to the annual donation. Skipper doesn’t spend any less himself and the additional contributions from the family add to the donation, providing more athletic balls to Metropolitan Ministries. This year, the Peek family managed to donate over 200 balls. Skipper estimates that his family’s donation will help put smiles on the faces of hundreds of people.
Who is Involved?
While the generosity of the annual donation comes from the Peek family, they would not be able to fulfill their accomplishments without the help of the Metropolitan Ministries or their local sporting goods store. This year, Dick’s Sporting Goods helped by providing a discount on the purchase of the athletic balls. In the past, the family worked with Sports Authority and purchased the sports balls with a 20% discount (and tax-free) for their annual donation. One year Sports Authority even matched their donations. This remains Ali’s favorite Christmas memory.
The Peek family also appreciates the generosity of Metropolitan Ministries, a charity that provides meals and presents to less fortunate families during the holiday season. However, the ultimate contribution comes from the generous individuals in the Peek family including Skipper and his wife, Deidre, their seven children (Ali Wilbur, Jacqui Gidel, Scott Peek, Gabbie McFadden, James Peek, Danny Peek, and Dede Peek) and their respective spouses and grandkids. The family is now 19 strong.
What Does the Family Anticipate for the Future?
While Ali and her family have not revealed any big plans for the future, they do plan on carrying on the tradition for years to come. With the help of the family’s grandkids, Ali expects the tradition to remain in the family for generations. While the five grandkids (ages 2-4) are too young to understand how their family’s contributions aid less fortunate individuals, Ali says they help every year. The grandchildren help fill the shopping carts and take the donations to the Metropolitan Ministries Christmas Tent. Ali actively shares the same wisdom of generosity that her father shared with her to her kids and the rest of the grandchildren. Her hope is that they will grow up believing generosity is the best gift one can give.
“Every year, we explain that because God has blessed us with so much, those gifts give us a responsibility to help others who maybe don’t have as much.” -Ali Wilbur
The holiday season is more than just exchanging presents and spending time with the family. It’s about spreading generosity and happiness. We encourage you to learn from the Peeks and find your own way to spread love and give back in 2019.
Do you and your family give back each year during the holidays (or any time of year)? Share your ideas in the comments below to inspire others!