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Toy Giveaway highlights positive role models

LAPLACE — Recognizing that the children of today are the key to a brighter tomorrow, NFL star D’haquille “Duke” Williams, 46ers Clothing and Top Shelf Tax Service LLC teamed together to make a difference in the lives of St. John the Baptist Parish youth.

The inaugural Duke and the 46ers Toy Giveaway provided Christmas gifts to more than 300 children this week in front of the Cambridge subdivision in LaPlace.
Toys were spread onto four tables and divided by age group. There was something to capture the heart of every child, whether it was infant toys, dolls, board games, art supplies, scooters or sports equipment.

Growing up in the area made organizers aware of the challenges many families face during the holiday season, and Derrion Davis of 46ers Clothing said it was important for all of them to make a difference one toy at a time.

“We’re family, all of us. These are like my brothers and my sister. That’s how we came together,” Davis said. “We felt like the community needed this. We come from here, so that’s why we are giving back. Duke is in the NFL and he has the resources to do that.”
Williams has traveled around the country in his journey to becoming a wide receiver for the Buffalo Bills, but he always keeps his hometown close to his heart. He attended East St. John High School, where he had 1,495 receiving yards and 25 touchdowns during his senior year.

Williams wants nothing more than to be a role model for children growing up with big dreams of their own.

“We’re just trying to make a difference in the community. There are things we didn’t have growing up, so we are trying to provide that for the kids, and we just want to do something positive in our community to show these kids that anything is possible,” Williams said.

Davis noted that toy distributions elevate the community by helping children stay occupied and off the streets, since empty hands and idle minds make it easier to get in trouble.

Through his 46ers clothing line, Davis has aspired to make a difference in the lives around him. The clothing is inspired by his daughter, Haleigh Derrion’ Davis, who passed away in 2016 after gracing this world for 46 beautiful days. Davis and the 46ers recently held a SIDS awareness paint and brunch in Haleigh’s memory.

Organizers of the recent toy giveaway also hosted a turkey and fixings giveaway at the front of the Cambridge subdivision in 2019.

Romond Taylor and Kelly Shaw, representatives of local business Top Shelf, saw just how many families were in need during last year’s turkey distribution, which reached more than 100 families.

“We know a lot of people are not employed right now, so we want to help out any way we can to take some of the load off of the families,” Taylor said. “Last year, we still had some families that weren’t able to get turkeys, so we wanted the toy drive to reach more people.”

Williams hopes the toy drive will leave a lasting, positive impact on the children who attended.

“Coming from this area, we know how it is. We are letting people know we care about our community,” he said. “Top Shelf, the 46ers and myself are just trying to make a difference.”