HUNTINGTON, TX (KTRE) - Huntington Middle School was in for a sweet surprise when they opened their mail Thursday morning. Red Devils Athletic Director Shawn Jones unsealed an envelope with checks written for $4,636.42 from the JJ Watt Foundation to provide their middle school football team new equipment.
The donation was made possible for Huntington when one of their coaches, Jeremy Durham, submitted an application in need for new gear for the program in May.
Durham explained that the middle school football team primarily has to make do with hand-me-downs from the high school. Those days will be put to a halt for now because of the contributions they've received from the JJ Watt Foundation.
"The need for the junior high program is up there," Durham said. "In the last four years we've been able to get better uniforms and get better stuff, but this right here with the brand new equipment for our kids is great. It's worth to see it on their faces when they open the packages and are putting the gear on. It's going to be Christmas Day on August 22nd when they get to come here and see it."
Huntington said they will be able to buy 25 new helmets, 25 new shoulder pads, and six new blocking pads, which they've never had.
Most of the equipment the middle school children use is anywhere from three to five years old, and the school has never had the financial budget to be able to purchase new gear for the junior high team.
"We're a school that's not equitably funded. There's a need in the budget in every school. For our kids and our community, there's a shortfall. We get hand-me-downs every year where the sizing isn't right from high school to middle school, so to be able to purchase something in their sizes, brand new, is such a blessing," Jones said.
While the new equipment is great, Jones and the Huntington staff said they are also excited that the younger generation will be directly affected by a public figure who has set a great example for the kids moving forward.
"They watch JJ Watt on TV. They see him on Sundays playing on TV, but now they have a connection. I think it's neat for them to see someone positive in our sports figures where many are selfish and self-serving, but here's a young man who's using his money. He's been blessed beyond measure, and he's using his money to do something great, back for kids," Jones said.
The JJ Watt Foundation said they have donated $2.3 million to programs across the country. To learn more about the JJ Watt Foundation or how to apply for a funding request, click here.