ALAMO (KVEO) – Alamo Middle School Athletic Coordinator Justin Gonzalez took to Twitter two weeks ago seeking help from his community. With 2020 being tough on everyone, he wanted to go the extra mile and give the gift of a basketball to every one of his athletes. He figured by setting a goal of $700 in donations, that would cover a ball for each of his 150 student-athletes.
“They do so much for us, all of the extra time they put into practice,” Justin Gonzalez says. “Right now because of the pandemic we’re practicing from home virtual.”
Before Gonzalez knew it, his Cash App total far exceeded the hopeful $700 amount. As donations poured in, he wanted to be sure he could spread the gifts as far as possible.
“It started off on Twitter, I guess it started getting retweeted from there,” Gonzalez says. “The Valley’s a very small place. I had a bunch of random people sending messages. I had one say “I went to Alamo Middle School ten years ago, I wish someone did this for me what’s your Cash App I’d love to help out,” adds Gonzalez.
When his Cash App totaled $4,300, Gonzalez was stunned. Basketballs turned into volleyballs, and other sports gear that his student-athletes might need to practice.
“If kids can’t practice their drills at home, they might be very discouraged to come out for practice. So that’s really what, how it started and how it gained momentum from there hoping to get a ball for everyone,” says Gonzalez.
Gonzalez’s acts of kindness also grew as the amount of donations grew. He used the money to purchase jackets, blankets, space heaters and other necessities that children in the community may be in need of. He went from giving Christmas gifts to 150 students, to the entire Alamo Middle School of 750 students. Even beyond that, he connected with elementary schools in Alamo to extend gifts to their students in need.
“I was lucky enough to still have my job, but a lot of people aren’t especially in the Valley. So just to give a little bit back really means something,” says Gonzalez.