AJ McCarron takes his old club Christmas shopping

By Mark Inabinett 

A youngster from the Sonny Callahan Branch of the Boys and Girls Clubs of South Alabama poses with AJ McCarron and her assisting officer for a photograph on Thursday, Dec. 22, 2022, at Academy Sports + Outdoors in Mobile.

St. Louis Battlehawks quarterback AJ McCarron made some summer memories at the Boys and Girls Club in Theodore while growing up. On Thursday, the former Alabama All-American helped make some Christmas memories for 20 youngsters from that same facility.

At Academy Sports + Outdoors in Mobile, McCarron led a holiday shopping spree for 20 youngsters, who each received an Academy gift card for $125, then went shopping with help from members of local law-enforcement agencies.

“I’ve been blessed in my life, so anything I can do – and having great partners like Academy – to team up with them and give back to my community is something I’ve always pushed for,” McCarron said, “and my mom has always asked me to stay in the community and do a lot for the community. It’s just a blessing to be able to do this, and we’re very thankful to give these kids an opportunity to pick out some Christmas presents.”

The children ranged from 8 through 12 years old and came from the Sonny Callahan Branch of the Boys and Girls Club of South Alabama. Pamela Ware, the Boys and Girls Club of South Alabama’s public-relations representative, said the group worked to choose deserving youngsters for the shopping trip.

“We’re always looking for opportunities for the kids, so we’re most appreciative,” Ware said.

While McCarron has spent eight years in the NFL, he said he still can relate to what some of the children face in their daily lives.

“I grew up on (Dauphin Island Parkway) like the rest of my family, and we don’t come from much,” McCarron said. “It was a lot of tough times where we’d come in the house and didn’t have TV working or the phone wasn’t working. We had to make decisions on what bill you were going to pay. I’ve been in some of these kids’ shoes and know what it’s like to not have a whole lot.”

McCarron said he also could relate to the children’s experience at their Boys and Girls Club.

“I remember going there and playing a lot of ball,” McCarron said. “I played baseball there for their baseball team one summer and played basketball, and it really helped me. But like I said, not coming from much, so we had to have something to do during the summer, and my uncle (Larry Kent) ran the Boys and Girls Club in Theodore. It meant a lot to me to have somewhere to go and be around other kids and enjoy sports and the care that those people provide there.

“It’s awesome to be able to team up with them and help give back, being that I was there a long time ago.”

Assisting with the shopping on Thursday were representatives from the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, Mobile County Sheriff’s Office and the police departments of Mobile, Chickasaw, Saraland, Prichard and Semmes.