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McCullers never misses a chance to give back

MLB.com @brianmctaggart

HOUSTON -- He's only 25 years old, but Astros pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. has a charitable heart that few players his age possess. McCullers' biggest passion when it comes to philanthropy is finding forever homes for dogs though Houston Pets Alive!, but he doesn't stop there.

A week before Christmas, McCullers held a toy drive for kids from the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America program at a Houston-area car dealership, where he handed out donated toys, signed autographs and even gave some baseball advice to a couple of inquisitive teens.

HOUSTON -- He's only 25 years old, but Astros pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. has a charitable heart that few players his age possess. McCullers' biggest passion when it comes to philanthropy is finding forever homes for dogs though Houston Pets Alive!, but he doesn't stop there.

A week before Christmas, McCullers held a toy drive for kids from the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America program at a Houston-area car dealership, where he handed out donated toys, signed autographs and even gave some baseball advice to a couple of inquisitive teens.

Tweet from @brianmctaggart: Astros pitcher @LMcCullers43 greets fans at a toy drive Tuesday for Big Brothers Big Sisters of America at @ClassicChevySL pic.twitter.com/zXnFAognXk

McCullers, who grew up in Tampa, Fla., and now lives in Houston full time, also answered some questions from MLB.com about what the holidays mean to him:

Q: What was your favorite Christmas memory when you were a kid?

A: Man, really just all of our Christmases when all of our cousins got together. You know, I saw them maybe once or twice a year and [played] baseball, basketball, football in the street and going to my grandma's house for Christmas Eve and stuff like that. The holidays bring back a lot memories about family. The holidays means family.

Q: Is there a memorable gift you got as a kid you remember more than some others?

A: I got a T-Mac jersey one time and T-Mac shoes for Christmas. Tracy McGrady was my favorite basketball player growing up when he played for the Orlando Magic, so I used to lower my rim way down and do the T-Mac stuff off the backboard and dunk it -- an Allen Iverson jersey one time. I was a big basketball guy growing up.

Astros' community events

Q: So, I'm guessing Christmas in Tampa, you could go outside with the bats and balls and go right at it?

A: Christmas in Tampa was about 85 degrees, so you're ready to roll any time.

Q: What's Christmas like for you nowadays?

A: Nowadays, it's a little hectic, you know? I go back home and try to see everyone, try to see the family, but it's good. You go back home for the holidays and it reminds you of, you know, being young and having family around.

Q: What about your dogs? Do they get into the Christmas spirit as well? (Lance and his wife, Kara, have two adopted dogs, Minka and Riggs).

A: We try to do bows and hats and stuff, but our dogs hate that. They spend the whole time biting them. My wife makes sure we get them a bunch of gifts and we have them open it, but yeah man, we enjoy making everyone feel special in the holidays.

Q: What's on your Christmas list this year? Anything special?

A: No, nothing. On my Christmas list, I wanted to make sure we had a good turnout [at his charity event], and we got a lot of kids a lot of presents and we did that. I'm ready to roll.

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.

Houston Astros, Lance McCullers Jr.