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‘They could not believe that Cam Newton came to their Boys & Girls Club’: Patriots QB surprises kids to spread holiday cheer

Patriots quarterback Cam Newton appeared at the Chase bank branch in Roxbury, as well as at the Boys & Girls Club, as part of his annual "Santa Cam" charity event.Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff

Andrea Swain told her students a Patriots player was coming to visit Tuesday afternoon, but she didn’t tell them which one.

Swain, the executive director of the Boys & Girls Club in Roxbury, expected the group to be hooting and hollering upon seeing none other than quarterback Cam Newton walk through the doors of the gymnasium. But, instead, they were silent.

“They were, like, shell-shocked,” Swain said. “They were pinching themselves. They thought they were daydreaming. It took them like five minutes to actually really believe it. They could not believe that Cam Newton came to their Boys & Girls Club.”


As part of his seventh annual “Santa Cam” event, Newton decided to spend part of the Patriots’ regularly scheduled day off surprising local students for some festive fun.

At the Boys & Girls Club, where those in attendance wore masks, Newton organized a round of socially-distanced musical chairs and also spoke to the students about staying motivated during the coronavirus pandemic. He came bearing gifts, including Beats headphones, Under Armour gear, Target gift cards, among other things.

The group, largely pre-teens and teenagers, considered Newton’s visit “one of the best days ever” at the Boys & Girls Club, which has continued to host students during the coronavirus pandemic because of its WiFi access for remote learning.

“For their emotional health, this was like a 180 in terms of their morale and being happy,” Swain said. “Just all the great energy and vibrations from Cam. In terms of bringing that vivaciousness and hope and fun and enthusiasm for life, he turned the corner for them going into the holiday season. It was very uplifting.”

In previous years, while a member of the Carolina Panthers, Newton traveled to Charlotte schools and community organizations to spread holiday cheer and donate presents. Now, on a one-year contract with the Patriots, he wanted to keep his tradition alive.


The students were so captivated by Newton’s presence, Swain said, that they didn’t even remember to ask for his autograph.

“They had brought markers and everything for the player to sign autographs,” she said, with a laugh. “They didn’t even ask for his autograph. They literally were just so overwhelmed.”

Later Tuesday, Newton also visited a local Chase bank branch, where he delivered presents and met with four students from Camp Harbor View’s Leadership in Training program. The visit was once again a surprise. Newton met additional students via Zoom, participating in a Q&A.

Cam Newton poses for a selfie with Jaleel Heath, of Camp Harbor View, during the Santa Cam charity event at the Chase bank branch in Roxbury.Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff

“I just felt as if I had an opportunity and a platform that I needed to use,” Newton said at the end of the day. “My parents have always instilled in me the initiative to give back when you’re in a position to give back. I did not get to the place I’ve gotten without the help of others giving back to me. I would hope that I would empower somebody else when they do get in my position to do the same thing.”

Joining Newton for his busy day were his parents, Cecil Sr. and Jackie.

“This is a time for Cam to give of himself, so the children, people can see that he’s human, too,” Jackie said. “It’s always a good feeling when you can give something, but not only the material things. He’s here. He gives of himself. That’s equally important.”


Added Cecil Sr.: “Aside from the game — we love the game, don’t get me wrong — we want him to be natural and reachable and touchable in life.”

Cam Newton is flanked by his parents, Cecil Newton Sr. (left) and Jackie, during Tuesday's Santa Cam charity appearance.Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff

Nicole Yang can be reached at nicole.yang@globe.com.Follow her on Twitter @nicolecyang.