Andre Johnson. (Via @DTGoteraKHOU)Here's an NFL story designed to warm your heart and terrify your wallet. Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson, one of the league's unquestioned good guys, on Tuesday performed what's becoming an annual ritual for him: a Toys "R" Us shopping spree for at-risk youth in Houston.
Johnson's Foundation, the Andre Johnson Charitable Foundation, funded the spree, in which 12 children selected by Child Protective Services had 80 seconds to fill up their carts with as many toys as they could. And oh, could they fill those carts.
"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 afterward. You can see his gargantuan receipt in the photo at right.
The children, ranging in ages from 8 to 16, have all suffered parental abuse in some form and now live with extended family members. But each child made sure to purchase toys for siblings and other relatives as well.
Johnson's foundation performs several works throughout the year for children in both Houston and Johnson's Miami hometown. But he told the team's website that it's the Toys "R" Us event that he enjoys the most.
"I think it's probably the best one because you get to see the kids really enjoy it," he 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."
After the spree, Johnson also joined the Houston Police Department's Blue Santa program to surprise 800 students at Houston's Bastian Elementary School with Christmas presents.
Johnson stressed that he had traveled the path many of these kids were on, and he hoped they could learn from his example: "I grew up in a single-parent home and I was fortunate to achieve my goals," he said. "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."