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Shaquille O'Neal gifts 500 new pairs of shoes to elementary school students in need

Kids of Wesley Lakes Elementary School got to meet the NBA Hall of Fame star, who went to the school in person to distribute the shoes.

Shaquille O'Neal gifts 500 new pairs of shoes to elementary school students in need
Image Source: Getty Images/Josh Brasted / Stringer

Shaquille O'Neal is well known for his big heart as much as he is for his stature and his presence on the basketball court. The NBA Hall of Fame star has been helping people in need throughout his prestigious career that spans nearly 20 years. He has established The Shaquille O’Neal Foundation that solely focuses on helping underserved youth and provides them a chance for a brighter future. Last week, through his foundation, O'Neal joined Soles4Souls and Reebok to distribute new shoes to elementary school children in Henry County, Georgia, reported Fox 5. O'Neal is a resident of neighboring Atlanta and personally went to the school to distribute the shoes.


Through this collaboration, 500 new pairs of shoes were distributed to the kids of Wesley Lakes Elementary School, a McDonough Title I school. "It's all about the kids," O'Neal said. "The two things that really hurt me this year were seeing 40 million people out of work, and I hate seeing kids who don't have what they need." He went to cheer the kids up at the end of the school year that was severely disrupted because of the pandemic. They may have missed out on the school experience, but O'Neal made sure to meet the children, congratulate them for making it through this tough year, and helped bring a smile to their faces.


Soles4Souls is a non-profit organization that focuses on turning "unwanted shoes and clothing into opportunity, by keeping them from going to waste and putting them to good use." The non-profit has distributed more than 51 million pairs of shoes to 127 countries and all 50 U.S. states. They have collaborated with many other popular shoe brands including DSW, New Balance, Zappos, and Macy's. Any remaining pair of shoes would be distributed by the organizers to kids in need during the summer. Henry County Schools were also taken good care of by O'Neal in the winter.


With his Shaq-A-Claus program, the basketball legend visited Henry County Schools Learning and Support Center before Christmas last year. In this 19th year of the program, he delivered holiday gifts and cheer to underprivileged children around the country. "Every year, a lot of families struggle to provide for their children at the holidays,'' he said in a statement. "Because of the pandemic, it could be a lean Christmas for a lot of kids. Once again, I'm grateful for my business partners this year, who have stepped up and have been incredibly generous to the school children of McDonough. I encourage everyone to reach out to the folks in your community who need help, do what you can, and spread some holiday cheer."


O'Neal has been focusing on minimizing the impact of the pandemic on children. With his Get Game Ready initiative, O'Neal has made a generous donation to 24 schools across various states to help their athletic programs purchase equipment and supplies. Because of the pandemic, high school athletics across America took a beating but the grant money from the foundation will help keep school athletes safe when they start their athletic seasons again. This was possible thanks to the collaboration between Icy Hot, the pain reliever, and the Shaquille O’Neal Foundation. His love for sports has led him to generously help other aspiring athletes as well.


“The greatest leaders are the ones smart enough to hire people smarter,” O’Neal has said about his foundation, according to Forbes. “We'll put our resources together—and we're definitely going to make a difference.” His generosity knows no bounds and he is known for extending a helping hand spontaneously. Earlier this year, he paid off the debt of a guy who had just purchased a wedding ring for his girlfriend. The video was uploaded by a bystander and O'Neal addressed his kind gesture modestly and said, "I didn't mean for that to get out because I don't do it for that. I'm just trying to make people smile, that's all."


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