TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – It only took an infinite amount of planning, the greater portion of three days, and $15,630 from Antoine Winfield Junior and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. However, the final product is well worth it.
Young Middle Magnet School in Tampa has a newly renovated and restocked school store.
Lenora Arenas, a sixth grader at that school, helps at the store. She recalled the moment she was able to share it with the teachers.
“It was like two teachers,” said Arenas, “and they came in and they were like, ‘Oh my gosh! It is so pretty! Who did this? Who did this? Oh my goodness!’ and I was like, ‘Oh, so you like it, huh? Thank you!’”
Winfield recently donated $7,815 to the school after the NFL fined him $7,815 for flashing the peace sign during the Super Bowl. The Buccaneers Social Justice Fund matched that donation.
The principal at Young Middle Magnet School, Dr. Henrissa Berry, decided to put the money into the school store.
She had the walls painted this past week and on Saturday the students and their mentors from the Buccaneers organization added the finishing touches.
“I was unboxing things and I was painting the shelves for our new book bags and all of that stuff,” Arenas said. “I was unboxing some really cool things.”
“My favorite part about the new store is seeing everybody’s faces and seeing, like, when they come in, they are so happy,” said Rickira Isaac, a sixth grade student, “because, like, they know the stuff we got in there.”
The items in the store can be purchased with “Buffalo Bucks,” the school currency. That money is given to a student who exhibits positive behavior.
“It is just amazing,” Isaac said. “We have games. We have headphones. We have makeup. We have everything you could think of in one store at school.”
Isaac is also the co-captain of the Buccaneers Youth Leadership Program, which has connected the students to mentors and to players within the organization.
“It is a whole new experience that I never experienced before,” she said in reference to the program, “because it is, like, they just really open up to us and everything. They take time out of their day to jump on Zoom with us. They are like, ‘Oh, my God! I am so happy when I get on Zoom!’ and everything and it is really exciting.”
Isaac has not had the chance to purchase anything at the store but Arenas bought a purse. She followed in the generous footsteps of the Buccaneers giving that purse to her mother as a gift.
“She loves it,” Arenas said. “She really does love it because, even though she works hard to get me and my brother something, I really appreciate her.”
That appreciation extends to Winfield and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers too.
“I will remember that he gives,” Arenas said.
“I am going to think of him as a lifesaver,” said Isaac, “because he did help our school by donating us things because we did not have the money so he donated us things to make us kids get a smile on our face.”