Santa Comes to CrossFit Town

The toys that were collected.

Santa came to town early this year in the city of St. Petersburg, Florida.

On Saturday, December 13, 2014 CrossFit 9 held its annual Santa Slam – a holiday WOD, toy drive and potluck all rolled into one. On that day, the whole community is invited. If you donate a toy, you get a free workout.

“The first one actually surprised us how successful it was,” said Lindsay Alvestad, a Coach at CrossFit 9. “It totally just knocked our socks off. So, we ended up with whole truckloads of toys and at that point it was actually a little bit past the deadline that Toys for Tots would take them, so we were panicking, looking for someone to take these toys, and the fire department was like ‘we will take them, absolutely.’”

Around 100 people showed up at this year’s Santa Slam, bringing in a couple hundred toys. All the items collected will be given to the local fire and police department. They will then hand out the toys to families who have suffered anything from fires to crime over the past year, as well as children in long-term foster care. The toys will go to those kids who aren’t having as merry of a Christmas as they should be, said Alvestad.

Especially around the holidays, CrossFit 9 tries to make its events have some sort of charitable and community outreach aspect. So, when last year rolled around and they began to brainstorm how to tie their holiday party into a way to give back, the Santa Slam was born. Then the members simply took it and ran with it, leading to the toy drive’s success. “We know our athletes would be out doing awesome community driven things anyways, but it was very nice to do something community driven around a sport that we love,” said Alvestad.

Although Alvestad said other Boxes are bound to put on various events that aim for similar charitable goals, she suggested a few tips for putting on a Santa Slam-like event of your own.

First, plan ahead.

“I would definitely suggest that they reach out ahead of time and find a cause that’s very receptive to helping,” she said. “For example, we would have been absolutely overwhelmed if we had gotten all of these toys and then had to wrap them and distribute them. Being a third party made it a lot easier on us. We were able to hand it off to someone who already had experience – years and years worth of experience – handing out toys, and we just amplified their efforts.”

Also, Alvestad said they reached out to local businesses for door prize donations, as well as to get the word out. She found most of them were excited to be included. Plus, the members like to support businesses that support their own efforts, she said.

Finally, media was also key. “Let the media know it’s going on,” she said. “Let it know it’s going to be a lot of fun and that it’s very visual.”

All in all, Alvestad said just give back, whether around the holidays or any other time in the year. What’s important is making a positive impact on the local community.

Heather is the editor for Box Pro Magazine. Contact her at heather@peakemedia.com.