Winter holidays mark a season reserved for celebratory vibes with friends and loved ones, as well as the acknowledgment of blessings bestowed upon us. However, it is also a time of service and gratitude, which is usually shown through charitable acts benefitting those who are less fortunate. In Hip-Hop, paying it forward to the people who could use a helping hand has long been a duty taken on by our favorite artists, entertainers, and athletes, dating back to the birth of the culture.
Whether it be providing food and shelter for the homeless or gifting toys, clothing, and other necessities to families enduring financial hardship, these figures are active in making their presence a present to those who need it the most.
Partnering with various brands, charities, and organizations over the past month, these stars have made an immense impact on the lives of thousands with their respective philanthropic efforts. From toy drives and giveaways to personal visits to schools and hospitals, these names helped make it all possible by going above and beyond to ensure that the public have a few more reasons to revel in some holiday cheer of their own.
With Christmas recently passing and a New Year upon us, VIBE highlights some of the celebrities who gave back to the community during this holiday season.
21 Savage held his Grant-A-Wish holiday giveback in Stone Mountain, Georgia earlier this month, coinciding with the rapper being honored with his own day in light of his philanthropic efforts.
His Leading By Example Foundation’s fourth annual holiday event saw the Savage Mode creator personally autographing toys for the children and posing for pictures with guests throughout the day.
NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal held his 21st annual Shaq-A-Claus event this year, which saw the four-time NBA champion taking over the Shaquille O’Neal Boys & Girls Club in Henry County, Georgia.
Put together by the Shaq Foundation and sponsored by Pepsi Stronger Together and Tonka, the giveaway included a myriad of toys, bikes, and other gifts for the children.
Ciara And Russell Wilson
Ciara and Russell Wilson made an appearance at Children’s Hospital Colorado ahead of Christmas to sing carols, give away presents, and read books to the patients. The Grammy Award-winner and Super Bowl-winning quarterback’s visit also included autographed footballs by Wilson.
NLE Choppa used his presence as a present this holiday, making a surprise visit to a child diagnosed with scoliosis and truncus arteriosus type 1, a rare birth defect of the heart.
After hearing of 12-year-old patient AJ’s medical condition and fandom, the Memphis rapper arrived at the hospital clad in a Santa Claus outfit with gifts in tow to help lift his spirits. According to the hitmaker, AJ’s story prompted him to get in contact with the child’s mother and create a special moment.
“After watching the video, I got in contact with his mom and from there I was facetiming him and messaging him every day,” NLE Choppa said in a clip documenting the visit. “Christmas was coming around the corner so I decided to grant all his wishes by buying him all the gifts he had asked for. I even flew out to Texas to go surprise him at the hospital.”
AJ, who was able to spend time hanging out with NLE, also received numerous items from his wishlist, including a PS5, a iPhone 13, clothes and sneakers.
Future’s Freewishes Foundation held its 9th annual Christmas toy drive, which included a lavish shopping spree at Target for 1,000 families in the Atlanta area. The event, which was organized with the help of the rap star’s sister, Tia Wilburn, and his mother, Stephanie Jester, continues Future’s long-running tradition of giving back to the community.
“Christmas has always been another opportunity to give and not receive for the foundation,” explained Wilburn. “We’ve been committed to giving back to those in need for over ten years, especially in metro Atlanta and the neighborhood we grew up in, Kirkwood.”
Lil Wayne merged his love for sports with his passion for community outreach during his “A Weezy Christmas” charitable event in his hometown of New Orleans. The event, which took place at a Dave & Buster’s restaurant location, saw 150 kids being presented with a fun-filled day consisting of free food, a sports equipment giveaway, and photos with Santa.
Weezy spoke of he and Young Money President Mack Maine’s desire to use their platform and resources to help educate and inspire the next generation. “This Christmas Mack & I wanted to give these kids everything necessary so that they could enjoy all the benefits of being a top tier athlete,” said Weezy in a statement. “Whether it’s learning about sportsmanship, teamwork, or just using the field as a way to escape everyday stresses; we wanted to make sure these kids get to experience impactful moments.”
YoungBoy Never Broke Again
YoungBoy Never Broke Again kicked off his inaugural “Unity in the Community Christmas Drive,” which occurred on Christmas Eve in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The event included appearances by Fredo Bang and TG Kommas and saw the rappers gifting Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital with various free presents for the children.
In addition, the Never Broke Again family, Bang, and Kommas also partnered with Peace to the Streets, A Good Deed Foundation by Adrian Ace Hammond, The NAACP, and Metro Health Education to organize a drive-thru giveaway at the BRED Admin Building in their hometown.
Master P headed out to Louisville for a Secret Santa event, which saw over 200 children receiving free gifts courtesy of the rap mogul and Game Changers. Teaming up with community activist Christopher 2X and University of Louisville basketball coach Kenny Payne, P turned the Chestnut YMCA into a world of wonder for the children. Sponsored by Delta Dental and Adidas, the giveaway also saw the No Limit founder placing the focus on youth from areas lacking resources.
“A lot of kids that’s living in these minority areas, they don’t have counseling,” P told WLKY Channel 32. “They don’t have the right medication. Or they just don’t have the right people around to give them that love. So that’s what this is about today.”
Ludacris partnered with Mercedes-Benz’s Season To Shine program for a massive shoe giveaway sponsored by the Ludacris Foundation and Cali-based non-profit, Shoes That Fit. The 45-year-old helped hand out 500 pairs of sneakers to children at Miles Elementary School in Atlanta to celebrate the holiday season, an experience he showed gratitude for in a statement.
“It’s all about giving kids moments they’re going to remember for the rest of their lives,” Luda said. “And I think today is one of those days that just coming here and seeing the smiles on their faces and making sure that, you know, everything is just given to them and knowing that we’re here to help and we’re here to encourage them.”
Meek Mill and Reform Alliance joined forces with a few of Philly’s professional sports organizations to help the city’s youth ring in the holidays. Earlier this month, the Dreamchaser participated in the “Eagle For A Day” event at the Philadelphia Eagles’ NovaCare Complex. During the event, children received free Eagles merchandise and ran through a “Jr. Combine,” which included a speech from Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni, passing and catching drills with Meek, and sprints alongside Eagles players.
Each kid also inked a one-day contract with the team, upon which they received a custom Eagles jersey. The second portion of the day included the “76ers VIP Gameday Experience,” which was headlined with a chat with Sixers head coach Doc Rivers and the kids participating in a basketball scrimmage at the Wells Fargo Center.
Latto’s Win Some Give Some Foundation held its second annual “Christmas In Clayco” event in the rapper’s hometown, which included a $250K donation in Christmas gifts.
Taking place at the Carl Rhodenizer Recreation Center, the giveaway included 3,000 gifts, free food, and live entertainment for children, as well as free meals and items for underprivileged families in the area. The day was also highlighted with the “Big Energy” rapper receiving a key to the city and being honored with her own official day by District 1 commissioner for Clayton County, Aleika Anderson.
“I owe a lot of my success to Clayton County, so it feels really good to be here,” Latto said of her ability to give back locally. “My old school Rex Mill (Middle School) is literally two minutes down the street and (as) we were driving past it, I was like, ‘Oh my God. Everything is coming full circle.’ I’m so blessed and happy to share my blessing.”
DJ Webstar And Dapper Dan
DJ Webstar held his 12th Annual Harlem Holiday Toy Drive earlier this month at Room 112 Lounge, where the hitmaker was joined by various figures within the Hip-Hop community. The event saw the likes of Dapper Dan, A$AP Ferg, Dave East, and other stars slide through with gifts and winter coats in tow, which were collected on behalf of The Boys and Girls Club of Harlem and the Dunlevy Milbank Community Center.
Sponsored by Cash App in partnership with Tidal and Gap, the toy drive saw DJ Webstar being honored with a Certificate of Recognition from the City of New York & Mayor Eric Adams. The award, which was presented by Dapper Dan, was received in acknowledgment of the spinner’s continued acts of service within his community.