FEATURE: Klein Oak players give back in a time of need
As James Smejkal V watched the winter weather blast take aim straight at Texas, towards the end of last week it made him stop and think.
The Klein Oak senior thought about those not as fortunate. People that would struggle in a time like this with the temperatures dropping into the single digits set to happen in the coming days.
On Friday, Smejkal asked Klein Oak football coach Jason Glenn if he could set two donation boxes outside their athletic facility to collect items. Smejkal was asking for clean blankets, beanies, gloves, socks, chapstick, and hand warmers.
"James is a special young man!," Glenn wrote in a Tweet. "One of the most unselfish athletes I have ever been around! His parents are amazing as well and he gets it. This young man should win the noble peace prize for teenagers!"
By Sunday, the boxes were filled with 57 blankets, 43 beanies, 35 jackets, 30 chapsticks, 25 pairs of gloves and socks, and hand warmers.
"Giving back to the community that a lot of times are forgotten is a selfless small act that can impact their lives in a big way," Smejkal said. "We drove through our Klein community finding tents on deserted streets, individuals under bridges and on street corners."
We thank our community for all your support and making today a success. We stayed out until it was unsafe on the roads. Today was a very humbling experience. May everyone stay safe and Happy Valentines Day! @jstephens2021 @CoachJGlenn
— James Smejkal V (@JSmejkal_5) February 15, 2021
It was him and fellow Klein Oak athlete Jamal Stephens who loaded the truck and headed out to distribute the items they had collected.
The duo spent over six hours driving on Sunday until it became unsafe to be out on the roadways.
"It was a very humbling experience meeting people from all walks of life that were grateful for our small generosity," Smejkal said.
During the six-hour day, one encounter stuck with Smejkal.
"We met a man that just wanted the opportunity to take a shower," he said. "Upbeat and positive outlook, but stated, 'I could have $100, and still not be able to take a shower'."
The items that they weren't able to distribute, Smejkal said were donated to the Salvation Army that was then sent to the Barbara Bush Library, which is set to be used as a warming center.
"I was blown away by our community involvement and donations," Smejkal said. "I hope that my little brother, and others see that you can change so many lives by one idea and 20 seconds of insane bravery to step out of your comfort zone to make a difference."