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A-Gone plays Santa to students during holiday season

Dodgers first baseman gifts footwear to members of College Track program at Roosevelt HS

LOS ANGELES -- While his team was Christmas shopping at the Winter Meetings, Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez was playing Santa Claus in the community.

Gonzalez gifted Nike footwear to 200 students from Roosevelt High School and Math, Science and Technology Magnet Academy at NIKETOWN Los Angeles.

The Boyle Heights-area students were provided with transportation from school to the store, where they met with Gonzalez for a photo session. Gonzalez also spoke about the importance of education and held a Q&A session with the group.

"This holiday season, my wife Betsy and I wanted to connect with high school students who have focused on their studies all year long," said Gonzalez. "Education and access to college is incredibly important, and I am grateful for any opportunity in which I can encourage students to achieve their academic goals."

These students are part of College Track, a program that makes a 10-year commitment to students from underserved communities and works continuously with them from the summer before 9th grade through college graduation to ensure they succeed in college and beyond.

College Track's sixth center, College Track in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles, began with 57 students in 2012, but will expand to serve more than 300 students by '16.

Partnering with's Foundation, The California Endowment and the Wasserman Foundation, College Track provides students the resources they need to get into and graduate from college. College Track teaches skills in arts and digital media, while guiding students toward the emerging careers of tomorrow in science, technology, engineering and math.

Gonzalez has embarked on similar community outreach events each holiday season since his trade to the Dodgers in 2012, as well as a steady stream of charitable endeavors that led to him being the Dodgers' candidate for the 2013 Roberto Clemente Award.

In Mexico, Gonzalez financially supports two baseball fields in Tijuana, and most recently engaged with 800 underprivileged students with the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City at the Colegio de Bachilleres in Colonia del Valle, where he gave a motivational speech and distributed Dodger gifts. He also supported Mexico's largest televised fundraiser, Televisa's Teletón, by appearing for a surprising meeting with Charly Rosado, a Dodger fan from Yucatan who became disabled due to a baseball injury.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for
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