By Sarrah Peters, News Editor
On Wednesday, July 17, local students got the opportunity to go back-to-school shopping with Dre Kirkpatrick, a Gadsden City High School graduate and former University of Alabama football player who is now a professional cornerback with the Cincinnati Bengals. This is the second year Kirkpatrick’s 21 Kids Foundation hosted the 2019 Back-to-School Swag Spree, which provides kids in need with new shoes, clothes and school supplies for the upcoming school year.
The 21 Kids Foundation was a lifelong dream of Kirkpatrick.
“Growing up as a child, this was something that I always wanted to do,” said Kirkpatrick. “First, be a football player and I always wanted to be able to give back to my community. When I got the opportunity, I definitely took full advantage of it.”
Kirkpatrick hopes that the foundation will also bring awareness to the issues in the local community.
“Everybody likes to talk about all these other things, but there are people in our own community that need help,” said Kirkpatrick.
Although Kirkpatrick said that he always knew he wanted to play football and give back to his hometown, he praises his parents’ guidance to getting him to the point he is today.
“They always made sure I never forgot where I came from,” said Kirkpatrick. “So for me to be at the level that I am at today, I didn’t imagine this.”
Last year the foundation was able to help 19 kids, but this year was able to help even more students. Thirty-one kids were invited to shop for shoes at Shoe Carnival in East Gadsden. After finding a pair of shoes, the kids went to Old Navy to pick out $100 worth of new clothes.
The kids were also gifted a backpack with school supplies. Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority provided the school supplies in backpacks provided by Quality of Life.
After a morning full of shopping, the students had lunch at Blackstone Pub and Eatery.
During the shopping spree, Kirkpatrick spent time with the kids and offered them advice.
“You guys need to make all A’s and B’s,” said Kirkpatrick. “That’s the only thing I want in return.”