Monday, December 13, 2010

Niners Score a Win for Christmas

Mike Iupati is used to knocking guys around for a living. The rookie left guard for the San Francisco 49ers is known for delivering crushing downfield blocks in the running game and keeping nasty-intended defenders away from his quarterback.

He took a break from gridiron action yesterday, however, to deliver a little holiday cheer to local children as they went Christmas shopping for their families.

Although Iupati, No. 77, doesn’t have any children of his own, yesterday he had three young boys look up to him for more than just being tall.

“He’s the best guy,” said Fabian Perdomo, 9, as he gave Iupati a big hug.

The 49ers have teamed up with Samaritan House and Visa to take children shopping during the holidays for four years now. The children participating in the annual event come from Samaritan House clients who are currently struggling to get by in the poor economy.

“Community service is extremely important to the 49ers throughout the year but during the holidays, it is particularly important for us to support those in need,” said Joanne Pasternack, the 49ers Foundation director.

Pasternack, a San Mateo resident, volunteered for Samaritan House when she was younger and linked the 49ers up with the nonprofit to help give back to the community.

Yesterday, 49ers players Josh Morgan, Nate Davis, Reggie Smith, Moran Norris, Nate Clements, Chris Maragos, Chilo Rachal and Manny Lawson joined Iupati in taking 36 children holiday shopping.

“The kids aren’t shopping for themselves,” Pastnernack said. “They get to spend the day with the players and then give the presents they buy to their families.”

Visa donated $250 gift cards to each child.

Iupati helped Perdomo, Jose Rouque and Andrew Vaihol with their shopping duties, although it was not always easy considering all the toys and other items from which to choose.

The boys discussed the merits of toys and games and how to play them with Iupati as they cruised Target.

They checked out boxing gloves and tennis racquets before ending up in the video game aisle.

Toys were not the only items being bought, though. The children were also buying clothes, baby items and even a blender.

But the 49ers do play football and wide receiver Josh Morgan could not avoid fielding questions about the team’s upcoming game with the Seattle Seahawks. Iupati also took time to sign some autographs for fans in between his time with the kids.

Iupati, 23, does not have his own children but does have two nephews and a niece he was inspired to shop for as he hung out with Perdomo, Rouque and Vaihol.

“I wish I had kids,” Iupati said with a smile.

Samaritan House is a nonprofit agency that provides food, shelter and job resources for those in need. It relies on donations from the public to implement its various programs. For more information visit

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