Longwood basketball player Jermaine Drewey organizes Christmas Eve toy drive
For the kids in the Villa on the Greens neighborhood in Houston, Santa Claus came early this year. Only instead of a red coat and stocking cap, he was wearing a Longwood basketball jacket.
Longwood men’s basketball junior Jermaine Drewey gave back in a big way during his holiday break, teaming up with his siblings to organize a toy drive and gift delivery to dozens of families in his childhood neighborhood on Christmas Eve.
Drewey, two of his sisters, his stepbrother and a family friend purchased the gifts themselves, drove through the neighborhood and hand-delivered an array of toys to children and families. The initiative was entirely the brainchild of Drewey and his siblings and carried special meaning for all of them, including Drewey, who grew up in the area.
“When I was growing up, it was hard,” he said. “Parents didn’t really have much to give their children. I grew up and I knew I wanted to give back to the community, and I wanted to start right now. Even though I didn’t have much, I wanted to share.”
Drewey and his sister advertised the giveaway on social media and by word of mouth, and later went door-to-door inviting anyone with children to grab one of the games, toys or boxes of craft supplies they were distributing. As word spread, the turnout increased, and by the end of their trip through the neighborhood, they had emptied their literal trunkload of gifts.
“We just wanted to give out some toys to children who we know have been through some tough times,” he said. “But at the same time, I wasn’t looking for respect or attention. I just wanted to do something for people who are going through the same thing I went through when I was younger. I just wanted to share my blessings with other people.”
Drewey and his family now live down the street from the neighborhood, and he is still well-known in the area – perhaps moreso now that he is a Division I basketball player at Longwood following a standout prep career at North Forest High School and a breakout 2019-20 season at junior college powerhouse Panola College.
And even though Drewey is well on his way to earning his degree in business administration at Longwood, he recognizes the impact he can have as a role model within the community where he grew up. That goes for the children who look up to him as the local basketball star, and his peers from the neighborhood who, like him, “made it out.”
“When I was younger, we didn’t really have anybody giving back to the community so I just wanted to make a change,” he said. “I wanted to show people in that area who made it out that they can give back too.”
The gift-giving initiative comes at the end of Drewey’s first fall semester at Longwood during a rare but welcome five-day break from basketball activities for the winter holiday. He has since rejoined his fellow Lancers on campus as the team prepares for the upcoming two-game Big South series against UNC Asheville this Wednesday and Thursday in Willett Hall.
And while an injury has limited Drewey to just two games this season, both he and head coach Griff Aldrich expect him to return as a key piece of the Lancers’ backcourt rotation for Big South play.
When that happens, Drewey will certainly have an audience back home in Houston tuning in to watch their very own Santa Claus in a Longwood uniform.