Athletes for Vets Foundation partners with Toys for Tots to help provide Christmas for thousands in Burlington County

The two organizations recently held a fundraising event at Top Golf Mt. Laurel featuring several former NFL athletes

From left, Sergeant Wilhelm Borlas, Athletes for Veterans founder Dereck Faulkner, Gina Capate of Toys for Tots and Sergeant Karen Teriele pose for a photo in front of a table filled with toys destined for underserved children in Burlington County this holiday season.

The Athletes for Vets Foundation, a nonprofit founded by former Moorestown resident and one-time Philadelphia Eagle Dereck Faulkner, recently teamed up with The Marines Toys for Tots of Burlington County for a fundraiser at Top Golf Mt. Laurel, benefiting the missions of both organizations.

In addition to assisting Toys for Tots with their goal of providing over 21,000 kids in South Jersey with toys this holiday season, the event sought to raise funds for Athletes for Vets’ Military Scholarship Program and Military Charitable Gifting Program.

“We’re looking to assist local families and young kids by getting them toys for Christmas,” Faulkner said of his organization’s partnership at the fundraiser. “This is our first year working with Toys for Tots.”

Faulkner was not the only NFL alumni at the event. Attendees had a chance to meet former players Albert Young of the Minnesota Vikings, Aaron Beasley and Eric Childs of the New York Jets, Geoff Pope of the Philadelphia Eagles, Gary Brown of the San Francisco 49ers and David Caldwell of the New York Giants. 

According to Athletes for Vets stated mission, they are a nonprofit organization that enables current and former professional athletes to advocate for U.S. military men and women and their families.

Born into a military family, Faulkner’s ties to the armed forces run deep. His mother, LaCarole, is a retired army major and his father Len is an army veteran. Both parents actively support their son’s efforts with his organization and were present at the event.

“I felt like the military was something I wanted to help with, something that was near and dear to me,” Faulkner said of his decision to start Athletes for Vets.

Faulkner is a former resident of Moorestown and was a star athlete at Moorestown High School. He recalls fellow NFL alumnus and MHS star athlete Young convincing him to play for the school his junior year.

“It changed my life. I owe a lot to Moorestown and to South Jersey in general,” Faulkner said.

In addition to the numerous athletes in attendance was Toys for Tots coordinator for Burlington County Gina Capate. Since the loss of their partnership with Toys “R” Us, and the roughly $25,000 of grant funding that came with it, Capate says her organization has had to rely on individual donations and their own funds.

“Athletes for Vets said they were going to come out and help us try and recoup some of that money,” Capate said of their recent partnership.

The daughter of a marine, Capate has her own family military history. She says for her it is all about giving back and making sure no child in our area is forced to go without this Christmas.

“Every child deserves to open something on Christmas,” Capate said.

For more information on Faulkner and the Athletes for Vets organization, visit their website at athletesforvets.org. To donate to Toys for Tots Burlington County, you can visit their website at mt-laurel-nj.toysfortots.org.