Samoan N.F.L. star spreads Christmas cheer
Hundreds of families in the American states of California and Pennsylvania were surprised when the Pittsburgh Steelers’ wide receiver the Samoan JuJu Smith-Schuster paid their Christmas bills.
In early December the National Football League star teamed up with Pay Away the Layaway volunteers for a drive-through event at Burlington Stores in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Compton, California, United States.
In a video that shows him a Burlington store, Smith-Schuster said when he was a child, he didn’t have much and made Christmas presents “out of nothing.”
“When I was a kid I always used to think about what am I getting for Christmas? Or what are we going to have? I was a person who used to make something out of nothing and give it as a Christmas gift and now I have the opportunity to give back,” Smith-Schuster said.
“This is something I have always wanted to do.”
He thanked his partners Burlington, Pay Away and everyone who helped him pull off the Christmas event.
“Shout to Burlington, shout to the people who have been helping and big shout to Pay Away the Layaway so let’s keep it going” Smith-Schuster said.
Parents screamed with excitement upon being surprised with the gifts and wiped their tears as the wide receiver presented them with their presents and signed Steelers fan gear.
“Thank you for your heart,” he told one woman.
“Growing up, I didn’t have much. I lived in a garage and I slept on the floor until I got to college.”
The Christmas event took place before the Steelers defeat the Cincinnati Bengals in early December, reports The Hill news site.
“I am truly blessed to be able to give back to families in Pittsburgh and California during the holidays,” said Smith-Schuster, Chairman of the JuJu Foundation, in a statement.
“We hope paying off these layaway balances will cause a sense of relief and lift the spirit of all of these families.”
In addition to paying off Christmas gifts and essential products for more than 170 families, Smith-Schuster partnered with Walmart to give over $20,000 worth in Walmart Gift Cards to more than 200 Pittsburgh kids, surprising them with a virtual video message.
“The partnership between Boys and Girls Clubs of Western Pennsylvania and The JuJu Foundation continuously provides not only support in such a time of need for our youth but also unforgettable opportunities and experiences for our members, 70 per cent of which come from single-parent households,” said Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Pennsylvania’s CEO, Lisa Abel- Palmieri, in a release.
“We thank JuJu and his team for bringing holiday cheer to our members and their families during such a difficult year.”
The Long Beach native of Samoan descent grew up in a big family himself and found a mentor in rapper Snoop Dogg's youth football league.
The year 2020 has been “a tough year for all of us” said Smith-Schuster and he wished everyone well for Christmas and the New Year.