by Christopher Blomquist

Academy Sports + Outdoors, the multibrand sports and outdoor retailer that operates 259 brick-and-mortar stores across 16 US states, has donated over $400,000 to its local communities this Yuletide. Academy activated more than 75 grassroots events in its footprint and surprised hundreds of shoppers through its “Traveling Santa” initiative at each of its stores throughout December.

“The Christmas season is a unique opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to local communities in need,” said Lawrence Lobpries, SVP of Marketing, in a statement. “We hope these events and donations remind people within our communities to have fun out there and enjoy the presence of their loved ones during the holidays.”

Through the “Traveling Santa” initiative, Academy identified individuals and families doing their holiday shopping in-store at their local Academy and surprised them by helping pay for their holiday gifts.

The grassroots events included in-store shopping sprees, bike donations and other giveback initiatives in 50 cities across Academy’s footprint. The events focused on giving back to first responders and children by donating to local chapters of the National Police Athletic League, Boys & Girls Clubs, Big Brothers Big Sisters and additional non-profits which aid community members.

Academy partnered with the Carolina Panthers, Tennessee Titans, Dallas Cowboys, Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars Foundation, the San Antonio Spurs and Austin FC in addition to various Minor League Baseball teams and professional soccer clubs for the initiative. Each helped Academy surprise local families and interact with the children to continue to inspire the next generation of athletes.