Andre Johnson didn't grow up with money. Going on a Christmas shopping spree was a distant dream.
But as an NFL star, Johnson is able to make that dream a reality for a handful of lucky kids.
For the eighth straight year, "Andre Claus" has done just that, spending more than $16,000 on toys for 11 at-risk kids in the Houston area. The charges ran up a shopping receipt taller than the 6-foot-3 receiver:
— Drew Dougherty (@DoughertyDrew) December 2, 2014
The kids were given about 80 seconds (Johnson wears No. 80) to run through the store collecting whatever gifts they wanted. Tiny legs and hands were no obstacle in snatching up some of the best gifts found in a Houston-area Toys 'R' Us:
Andre Johnson gave the kids 80 seconds (or a little more) to let them get anything they want pic.twitter.com/KkapT0bt3j
— Daniel Gotera (@DTGoteraKHOU) December 2, 2014
All of the kids participating in the event come from backgrounds of parental abuse, and are currently living with another family member. The participants were selected by child protective services.
"I always said if I ever made it, if I was blessed to make a lot of money, I always wanted to give back and do things for kids and just help people out," Johnson told HoustonTexans.com. "That’s why I do it."
The gratitude from the children doesn't hurt, either:
Really cute: a tiny little girl snuck up to the stage while everyone was opening their gifts to read Johnson a thank you letter she wrote.
— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) December 2, 2014
"Everybody just says thank you," Johnson said. "You just help them in a way that they thought they'd never be helped. It's an opportunity for their kids to get whatever they want, and they don't have to worry about it. I'm glad to take that burden off of them."