Coleman brings backpack giveaway to Bond Elementary School
By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook staff writer
James Coleman, a former football player at Florida High who parlayed his talent to FSU and later in the NFL, could hardly believe what he was seeing.
A long line of automobiles snaked around Bond Elementary School and through the parking lot. They came to get back-to-school backpacks for their children. Farm Share was there giving away food, too.
“It gives me a great feeling inside,” Coleman said of the turning out last Saturday morning.
Stephanie Wilson showed up with her 8- and- 12-year-old children about 90 minute into the event. A single mother, she is making ends meet by cleaning homes and relying on a support system that includes her eight siblings and their mother.
“It helps because at the end of the month when food is getting low, I can come to a food drive and pick up a bag of food and it’s healthy,” said Wilson, who sometimes has to rely on food drives. “Generally most of the food drives during COVID have had clean, fresh produce and everything.”
Coleman, who lives in Jacksonville, said he was inspired to help the Southside community by putting on the back-to-school backpack drive with the intent of changing the impression that Blacks don’t usually get along.
He also wanted young people to see a Black person having an impact on the community. Not enough Black men who find success away from home come back to encourage other, he said.
“You may have to leave because you may get opportunities but you have to come back,” he said. “It’s important to show guys that you’re coming back and your city is important to you. Hopefully I’ll continue to do this as long as the Lord allows me.”
These days Coleman is training athletes. He also holds down broadcasting gigs with 1010 XL radio station and First Coast news as a sports analyst.
Coleman was a starter for three seasons as a fullback during his career at Florida State. He had 10 touchdowns while playing in 46 career games. While he was at FSU, the Seminoles won three Atlantic Coast Conference Championships between 2002–2005.
He later played one NFL season with the New Orleans Saints.
Coleman called on his former school mate, Brittany Christie, to handle the logistics when he decided the stage the event. She recruited a huge pool of volunteers that included the Junior Lamplighters and the TCC women’s basketball team.
Christie, who has a start-up business, Christie’s Sports and Philanthropy, said Coleman’s gesture was right on time in the midst of COVID-19.
“So many people have gone through hard times just because of COVID,” said Christie, a former player on the TCC women’s basketball team. “They lost their jobs or they’ve been furloughed; whatever the case may be. This provides an outlet to receive what you missed if things were going better.”