TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – You are probably well aware of the connection between the peace sign and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ safety, Antoine Winfield Junior.
He flashed it during the Super Bowl and received a hefty $7,815 fine for it.
However, Winfield decided to flip that script. He and the Buccaneers each donated that amount of money to Young Middle Magnet School in Tampa to help the students they know through the Buccaneers Youth Leadership Program.
“I was so excited for our students,” said Principal Dr. Henrissa Berry. “I was excited that the player stepped up and said, ‘You know what? Let me turn this into something that is going to really truly make a difference in the lives of children and also in our school culture and climate,’ so that was just exciting for me.”
Berry learned of that $15,630 donation in February. Sarah Evans, the senior manager of player relations with the team, sent her a text message.
“As usual,” recalled Berry, “I was moving about the school. I was just kind of doing my thing and the text message came. ‘Hey, can you meet with us this afternoon?’ and I was like, ‘No, I am in the middle of something.’”
They connected on a Zoom call the following day.
“She told me the good news,” said Berry with a smile, “and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh! I should have called you yesterday!’”
Berry already has a plan for that money. She is going to use it to renovate and restock the school store.
“We encourage our teachers when they see students exhibiting positive behaviors, to reward them with a Buffalo Buck,” she said. “Those Buffalo Bucks, in turn, are our school currency that are utilized in the school store in order to provide students choice around what incentives they receive and, so, they use those Buffalo Bucks to purchase whatever they want and whatever is available in the school store.”
Amiah Kennedy, who is an eighth-grade student at that school, reacted to the donation.
“I was happy and excited,” she said, “because I get to spend my Buffalo Bucks on something that I want. I would like to buy, like, if they sell shirts or like earrings, that type of stuff.”
“This really does allow us to incentivize our students at a different level,” said Berry, “to make sure that they are rewarded for the great things they are doing on a day-to-day basis.”
The school hopes to have the store upgraded and filled before the end of this school year. Those upgrades could include a Buccaneers mural and a variety of video games for the students to play while they are in the store.
“Thank you for giving us this donation,” said Kennedy. “I think it is cool, awesome.”