Rowan athletes help local kids shop during annual Gifts for Giving event

Rowan athletes help local kids shop during annual Gifts for Giving event


There were sounds of laughter and holiday music in the halls of Esby Gym for the 14th annual Gifts For Giving event earlier this month.

Altogether, 94 Rowan University student-athletes helped local children shop for holiday gifts for members of their families on Dec. 6.  It was the seventh straight year that athletics has assisted the organization, An Opportunity’s Knockin' (AOK).  

“The AOK Gifts for Giving event has become a holiday tradition in Rowan Athletics,” said assistant athletic director Dave Naphy.  “It’s an opportunity for our athletes to give back to the local community in a fun and meaningful way.  Each year, our athletes look forward to this event, as evidenced by the large number of volunteers.

“It was a very rewarding experience for me to watch our student-athletes interact with the kids,” continued Naphy.  “It’s easy to judge an athlete by their accomplishments on the field, but they are so much more than that.  At Gifts For Giving, they were role models and community leaders.”

AOK, a non-profit community group, sponsored the event.  Rowan athletes went shopping with 35 children at the Walmart Superstore in Turnersville.  The athletes later assisted with wrapping the gifts and hosted fun activities for the kids.

“I would like to thank Pete Mauro and his team at An Opportunity’s Knockin’ for their great work in the community and for allowing Rowan Athletics to be a part of it,” said Naphy.   

AOK teams with community sponsors to raise funds so that children can have the chance to shop for loved ones.  The founders, Pete Mauro of South Harrison Township and Pete Eobbi of Woodbury, both Naval engineers, also speak at local high schools and youth leadership groups about topics not directly taught in schools.

Mauro and Eobbi stress how integrity, balance, confidence, the importance of relationships and the benefits of making mistakes help young adults find what success means to them as well as making life a little bit better and easier, no matter their situation.

For additional information about AOK, visit