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Young Bolts fan’s giving spirit ensures those in need have a merry Christmas this year

by Peter Pupello / Tampa Bay Lightning

By all accounts, Gavin Cox is not an average four-year-old kid.

Not because his mother, Tiffany, says her son spends countless hours watching Tampa Bay Lightning hockey videos on the family’s iPad; not because he actually believes his name is listed as an official member of the Bolts NHL roster; and not the least because he is one of the most talented youth players on his mite-level hockey team.

Nope, has nothing to do with anything.

“He literally thinks it’s his job to give back to those in need and help other kids in the community who are less fortunate than he is,” Tiffany said.

That explains, then, why Gavin recently gathered up an accumulation of gifts he received for various occasions such as birthdays and the like, and donated them to charity on behalf of the Lightning Foundation.


It makes for conversations with his mother during which she chuckles as her son, standing close by, insists he is being helpful.

But it also puts into context why for some less fortunate, this Christmas will prove to be a little bit more merry than usual.

That was determined approximately two months ago, when Tiffany approached her son to ask him what he wanted for Christmas.

“The first thing on his list for Santa Claus were toys to bring to other boys and girls,” she said.

Gavin displays toys collected for Toys For Tots.

It didn’t take long for Tiffany to start thinking outside the box, with no pun intended and equally without regard to the contents that would soon be found inside.

Rather than having her son donate just one or two toys to those in need, Tiffany asked each member of Gavin’s hockey team, the Green Hornets, if they would bring a toy or two each to the team’s holiday party, which was held last week at the Ice Sports Forum in Brandon.

The response was overwhelming.

In total, an estimate of about 20-25 gifts ranging from a toy car to an art set were collected, all of which will be handed over to the Lightning Foundation and then donated to Toys For Tots just in time to be opened on Christmas morning.

Tiffany added that this wasn’t the first time her son had put others’ needs ahead of his own, as he also donated all of the toys he received for his birthday back in April to various local charities as well.

“He’s really a special kid,” Tiffany said. “As a parent, it’s inspiring.”

It all comes from Gavin himself seeing Lightning players do much of the same, donating time and service to charitable causes while acting as ambassadors and civic leaders on behalf of the Tampa Bay community.

“He sees the Lightning do it all the time,” Tiffany added. “He wants to be just like them.”

As for those others items on Gavin’s Christmas list to Santa?

Among them are a baby doll for his sister, an Imaginext Adventure Castle, an indoor hockey set, and a hat for his dad.

“Pretty much just things for everybody else,” Tiffany said.

But Gavin did want at least one thing in particular for himself.

“I just want everyone to have a Merry Christmas,” he said.

As his mother hinted before, not average at all.

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