HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - One Mississippi man's donation to a student in need spurred a generous donation from across the country.
Last Thursday, Traveon Clavo surprised Christopher, a Hattiesburg High School student he met earlier this year, with new shoes. Clavo was watching the Hattiesburg High School basketball tryouts in May 2016 when he noticed Christopher having difficulties with his shoes.
In California, Gerald Watson, a Mississippi native, read Clavo's story, and decided to ship a box of shoes and clothes to Christopher in time for Christmas.
"I just can't believe that people would sit there and laugh at a kid," Watson said. "That he was working so hard to actually play basketball, but his shoes (were) ripped. I was like 'I can't believe it.' Then I looked at situation with the guy who extended his help to him, and he said it took him six months to get a pair of shoes. I was like 'Oh wow, God has blessed us tremendously. (It) takes him six months, I could do this in, like, the matter of a second.'"
Clavo said, "It's very exciting because if it wasn't for me to help him, this guy in California, he probably wouldn't have (ever known) what circumstances this guy Chris is in. So that was very nice for him to do. He didn't have to do it, but having a good heart and good deed to pass it on to someone else is always a blessing."
Both Watson and Clavo said they grew up without a lot, and felt compelled to give back to someone in a similar situation.
"It was like from childhood when I didn't have (anything) and wanting to actually help someone in the position I was in when I was unfortunate in life," Watson said. "I grew up on Section 8, food stamps, in a struggle, so to come up out of it and, today, to be able to have the means to help out. I feel it's more important to help people in Mississippi because I think a lot of people overlook that there are people still out there in need. It was one of those facts of, 'Hey, I was there, and I'm able to help someone else.' So that's what made me do it."
Clavo said, "Coming from a family of 11, it was a hard time for us also, so therefore it made it easier for me to give."
Both men also remember specific stories about how important and special a new pair of shoes made them feel.
"I remember, in high school, it sort of happened to me," Clavo said. "I was without shoes, but my oldest brother Tony, he bought me some shoes. He told me he was going to do it, and for my first basketball game, I remember him bringing the shoes to the locker room for me. As a good deed happened to me, it's a good deed to pass it on to someone else. That's what my mom always taught us. It's better to give than receive."
Watson said, "I know when I didn't have shoes and underwear, when my cousin made it to the NBA, he was able to help me out in college when he was sending me his shoes, so I know what the confidence level of this individual will be. To be confident walking around campus, to be able to play basketball with the appropriate attire, so it's going to help him in life, not just in a basketball game or at school. This is going to give him the self-confidence he needs for the world."