Former Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Marcell Dareus may have just been traded to the Jacksonville, Jaguars, but he is still planning on playing Santa Claus for over 100 lucky children at the William-Emslie Family YMCA in Buffalo.
This will be his third annual Christmas event, using his own money to provide gifts for hundreds of under-served Buffalo children and their families.
“This event is near and dear to my heart,” Marcell Dareus explained. “Playing Santa allows me to see the kids’ faces up close and personal when they get their toys. To know my efforts will make their holidays that much better is a gift to myself and a great feeling. They deserve it and we have some fun with it too.”
Over the weekend, just before his trade was announced, Marcell Dareus was honored at The Crews Group’s sixth annual CHANGEMAKERS 30 Under 30 Awards at The Aud on Hertel Avenue in Buffalo.
Dareus received the inaugural CHANGEMAKERS Humanitarian Award and be recognized for his philanthropic efforts in the Buffalo community, as well as abroad.
“Ever since I came to Buffalo, the people have always made me feel welcomed. Giving back is a way for me to say thank you, show my gratitude and let them know how much I care about them too.”
Dareus has become known for his generous efforts, both in Buffalo and around the globe.
One of the traditions that he has established through the Dareus Foundation is partnering with charitable organizations to host a variety of people in his suite at New Era Field during Bills’ home games.
On Sunday, October 22, as part of the NFL’s Crucial Catch campaign, Dareus welcomed a pair of cancer survivors, 12-year-old Alex Newark and Canisius College Professor Melissa Wanzer, to attend the Bills victory over the Buccaneers.
Last December, he hosted a number of military service members, and he looks forward to doing the same again this year.
“Being able to have survivors like Alex and Melissa come to my suite is an inspiration. More than anything, I’m glad they stayed strong and beat cancer.” – Marcell Dareus
“I’m honored to be able to invite people out to the stadium who’ve been through so much to have some fun and take their mind off whatever they’re dealing with,” Marcell Dareus said.
Dareus’ local contributions also include donating to the Buffalo Bisons Charitable Foundation, which made it possible for over 100 children from the Boys & Girls Club of Buffalo to attend a baseball game, get a meal and meet the Bills superstar.
In October 2016, Dareus made two visits to Buffalo-area Boys & Girls Clubs on Halloween, delivering candy and personalized skipper hats to approximately 100 children. And Dareus isn’t only making a difference locally.
He gave $25,000 to the Salvation Army’s Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund in August of this year to aid in the cleanup efforts in Houston after the devastation caused by the storm.
In addition, his well-documented humanitarian trip to Haiti in February 2017, through a partnership with Hope for Haiti, saw Dareus donate $25,000 to the organization for their educational and medical efforts in Les Cayes, located in the southwest region of the country where Hope for Haiti focuses the majority of their work.
“I have been so fortunate in this lifetime through my NFL career and am in a position to give back when I can,” continued Dareus. “I give without hesitation when I see there is a need for my assistance and try to help people as much as possible.”
Marcell Dareus plans to continue his tradition of giving in Jacksonville.