For basketball lovers, there are few players more legendary than Shaquille O’Neal. Many may recall him describing the difficulty of finding shoes that fit his size 22 feet, or more particularly, the difficulty and embarrassment of his parents being unable to afford those custom sized shoes. And for Shaq, the memories of his family struggling while he grew up drives his charitable efforts today, including Shaq-to-School.
Shaq has partnered with Zappos shoe company to provide over 2,000 pairs of shoes to students in need during the back-to-school season, as well as many other needed supplies for the second year. Zappos’ corporate social responsibility initiative, Zappos for Good, is featuring several different programs in partnership with Shaq including a Host-A-Drive campaign that allows other companies or groups of individuals to get involved with collecting school supplies, hygiene supplies, shoes, clothing, and many other essentials for students as they head back to school.
The Huntington Backpack Index estimates that the average family spent as much as $1,335 per student on back-to-school supplies. With stagnating incomes and increasing housing costs, this expense becomes more and more insurmountable for families around the country. Estimates suggest that more than 15 million kids may come to school on their first day unprepared with the supplies they need and thus already starting behind their peers.
As a part of the Shaq-to-School campaign, Shaq is delivering school supplies, shoes, and clothing across the country to 5,000 students at Shaq-Pack events in partnership with Communities in Schools, a nonprofit that helps the most vulnerable students stay in school and succeed in life in order to build stronger, healthier and more economically stable communities where every person is capable of reaching his or her greatest potential. Several other companies have joined Shaq in outfitting students – the Shaq-Pack supplies include donated products from Yoobi, Pentel, 3M, Hasbro, Panasonic, JVC, and AmazonBasics
The Shaq-to-School program is an expansion of Shaq’s other charitable endeavor with Zappos, Shaq-a-Claus, which has focused on ensuring that no child wakes up empty handed on Christmas morning for over 15 years.
When asked to describe more about the foundation of Shaq’s charitable efforts, he cites education as a core element to his success. Accordingly, much of his charitable initiatives have focused on ensuring that all children have an equal opportunity for a successful school year.
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