UNC alumnus Jesse Holley gives back with ‘Holley’s Helping Hands’

DALLAS, TX - AUGUST 20: Jesse Holley poses before a screening of 'Woodlawn' during MegaFest at the Dallas Convention Center on August 20, 2015 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images for MegaFest)
DALLAS, TX - AUGUST 20: Jesse Holley poses before a screening of 'Woodlawn' during MegaFest at the Dallas Convention Center on August 20, 2015 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images for MegaFest) /

Former University of North Carolina dual-sport athlete gives back

Many North Carolina fans will recall Jesse Holley from his time spent playing football and basketball for the Tar Heels in the early 2000’s.

The dual-sport athlete played football for four seasons under head coach John Bunting, amassing 126 receptions for nearly 1,800 yards and seven touchdowns. As a sophomore, he was seventh in the ACC in yards-per-reception with a 15.2 average. And a year later, his 47 receptions ranked eighth in the conference.

ST. LOUIS – APRIL 04: Jesse Holley
ST. LOUIS – APRIL 04: Jesse Holley /

During his freshman and sophomore seasons at North Carolina, Holley played basketball for the Tar Heels under newly arrived head coach, Roy Williams. Though basketball wasn’t his preferred sport, or the one that he possessed the most skill at playing, he suited up with one of the top programs in the nation for two seasons. He appeared in 25 games and was a member of the Tar Heels’ 2005 national championship team.

In 2009, Holley won the reality television series “4th and Long”, and was subsequently invited to the Dallas Cowboys’ training camp with a shot at making the opening day roster. He did just that, and went on to play two seasons with the team.

His time with the Cowboys was highlighted by a 77-yard reception against the San Francisco 49ers in the second game of the 2011 season. Holley, having replaced an injured Miles Austin in overtime, caught the ball and got it to the San Francisco 1-yard-line. The play set up a short field goal for Dan Bailey, which he hit, propelling Dallas to victory.

Holley’s time spend on the field, though, wasn’t even the most impressive thing he did in Dallas. And it certainly wasn’t the most important.

Holley is a man of faith and conviction. He’s a man who came from humble beginnings and they helped shape who he is today. From the moment that Holley arrived in the NFL, he had a calling; a calling that he knew his platform as a professional football player would help.

"“A poor kid from Roselle, New Jersey all the way to the NFL is an extremely long journey,” Holley told me. “Holley’s Helping Hands is so important to me because the families and kids that I help ARE ME. I sat in the same seats that these kids and families sit in. Middle of three boys being raised by a single parent grandmother who made less than 40k a year.”"

Holley went on to tell me that his family regularly had little or no money, and that having a traditional Christmas that involved gifts and stockings, was more of a fantasy than a reality. Christmas for the Holley’s often consisted of spending time together, and sadly, very few gifts for the children, if any.

"“I remember that feeling,” Holley continued. “And I always said ‘my kids will never feel like this.’ Well these kids are my kids and even though I don’t know them, THEY ARE ME, and I feel like no kid deserves not to have a Christmas and that’s why I do Holley’s Helping Hands Christmas.”"

Many of the children that Holley targets with his charity are those who have been affected by the loss of a parent, whether it be by death or abandonment, and all of the families are living in impoverish situations. Some are being raised by a single parent or grandparent, and most are from very low-income areas, such as inner cities.

These are children who will likely receive very few, if any, of the things that a typical child would expect to get when waking up on Christmas morning.

Holley starts by asking the parents for a list of needs, things vital to the child’s everyday existence such as clothing. He then gets a list of things the child wants, and tries to provide one or two of those items, relative to cost.

This holiday season, Keeping It Heel is teaming up with Jesse Holley to promote Holley’s Helping Hands. In an effort to provide a fabulous Christmas to these deserving children, the KIH staff encourages you to take part in Holley’s Helping Hands.

Just $10 will help provide a wonderful Christmas for these children, something they likely would not have without our contributions. $10 will help support the immediate needs and a portion of wants for a child who isn’t expecting Christmas gifts under the tree this year.

If you find it in your heart, and wallet, this holiday season, give to a cause that could help turn the holiday season around for these children. Help provide hope for children of impoverish situations and unfortunate circumstances.

The following link is a for a PayPal account set up by Holley that accepts donations and allows for proceeds to fund Holley’s Helping Hands. The account has been fully vetted and approved by Keeping It Heel and the FanSided network.

Simply copy and paste the link below, or click here, and donate what you can. Every bit helps, and will make a difference in a child’s life this Christmas.

Donations for this year’s event will be accepted on and up to December 17th and 100% of proceeds go to the children.