By Kara Cook
Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson hosted his annual holiday shopping spree at Toys ”R” Us on Tuesday morning, giving 12 children selected by Child Protective Services 80 seconds to fill their bins with as many items as possible, compliments of the Andre Johnson Charitable Foundation.
Bright blue shopping carts and giddy youngsters whipped through the aisles stocking up on merchandise ranging from Barbie dream houses to digital cameras. Each child was also guaranteed an entertainment system of their choice and two video games.
“You hear a minute and twenty seconds and you don’t think that’s a long time, but you’d be surprised by what these kids can put into their buckets,” Johnson said after his foundation picked up the $19,521 tab on a receipt about a mile long.
Barbara Stubbs’ grandniece Heather Logan was one of the kids selected for the shopping spree. Both of them beamed ear-to-ear as they hustled through the store grabbing Christmas gifts for Heather and other family members.
“I think it’s awesome; I really appreciate this,” Stubbs said. “It’s by the grace of God they called us, and I’ll tell everyone I know we had a shopping spree with Andre Johnson. Heather is so, so happy.”
The Andre Johnson Charitable Foundation hosts a number of community events for children in the Houston area and in Johnson’s hometown of Miami. For Johnson, the Toys “R” Us event ranks among the top.
“I think it’s probably the best one because you get to see the kids really enjoy it,” Johnson said. “That’s what this season is about. It’s something I look forward to. The kids are happy, they get what they want for Christmas, and that’s all that matters. “
All of the children who participated in the shopping spree have been exposed to parental abuse of some form and now live with an extended family member as their primary caretaker. For Johnson, bringing a smile to their faces was particularly meaningful.
“All the kids that have been here every year have gotten gifts for their brothers and sisters or cousins or whoever,” he said. “It just shows what they go through that they think about others. It shows what type of kids they are.
“A lot of these kids get discouraged because of where they grew up and things like that. I grew up in a single-parent home and I was fortunate to achieve my goals. So, whatever goals you have, just keep them out in front of you, don’t let anybody distract you away from them, because there will be distractions that try to detour you away from your goals. That’s the biggest thing.”
Johnson has one more goal that he’d like to accomplish this season, and it happens to be the one thing he’s asking for this Christmas.
“That’s easy,” he said. “A Super Bowl. I don’t need anything. If I can get a Super Bowl, that’d be just fine.”
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