By Aaron Allen
The Seattle Medium
Last week, Seattle Seahawks defensive end Jadeveon Clowney along with the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Puget Sound held a Jingle-A-Thon shopping spree for local youth whose lives have been impacted by having an incarcerated family member.
Clowney, a graduate of South Pointe High School in Rock Hill, South Carolina, who played college football at the University of South Carolina, where he was a unanimous College All-American as a sophomore in 2012, was raised by a single mother, and his father was in prison throughout his childhood. According to Clowney, those experiences influenced his desire to give back to kids in similar situations.
During the event, Clowney spoke about the struggles he watched his mother go through to provide for him and his siblings, and how at times during his life Christmas didn’t come. With his father being incarcerated, Clowney was determined to do something to make sure that his mother would never have to struggle like that again and once he reached his goal of becoming a professional athlete, he wanted to make sure that as many children as possible would not have to know what missing Christmas felt like.
“Growing up in a single parent household my mom she did everything I could ever ask for,” said Clowney. “I used to watch her come home tired and sweaty from working all day and I wanted to make sure as soon as I signed with the NFL she could retire early.”
As a child, he recalled how the holidays in his household were extremely tough. For Clowney, tax time was a more exciting time of year than Christmas, because his mother would have a little extra cash to spend on things that they wanted and needed.
As part of his Jingle-A-Thon with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Puget Sound, Clowney gave $200 gift cards to 26 kids to go Christmas shopping. Originally, 25 kids were selected to participate in the event; However, one of the kids had a sibling that Clowney added to the festivities. In addition, the kids received Seahawks gear and a Nike backpack.
“When it comes to something like this no one ever took me shopping,” said Clowney. “Holidays was everything but, growing up Christmas was very rough, I used to wish Christmas was at a different time of the year, maybe we could celebrate Christmas around tax time.”
Louis Garcia, CEO of Big Brothers Big Sister of Seattle, possesses the same enthusiasm as Clowney when it comes to the well-being of children.
“With our friends and friend Jadeveon Clowney there are going to be a whole group of smiling and happy, amazing kids that are going to be sharing this evening with us,” said Garcia prior to the event.
“Our vision is that every child fulfills their full potential,” said Garcia. “We are really excited that Jadeveon Clowney has reached out to us to say ‘hey we can do something really special for some amazing kids and their mentors.”
As children and adults anxiously and patiently awaited Clowney’s arrival you could feel the excitement in the upstairs meeting area of Target where the meet and greet for the kids and their families was held.
After arriving and seeing the faces of the kids and families, Clowney expressed how important it was for him to give back and to make an impact on his community, particularly the children of the community.
“I just want to give back to kids,” says Clowney. “So, every year around this time I give back, it’s going on my fifth year now and I just want to help kids in need.”
Clowney and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Puget want the community to know that regardless of a child’s circumstances, they are going to do whatever they can to help make life a better place one child at a time through the acts of giving and mentorship so that Christmas and everyday can possess meaning in a positive and fulfilling way.