Former NFL player invests in local students

Published 6:10 pm Monday, August 20, 2012

Former NFL start Cornelius Griffin donated school supplies to more than 400 Pike County Elementary School students Monday morning.

Former NFL star Cornelius Griffin donated school supplies to more than 400 Pike County Elementary School students Monday morning.

Most of Cornelius Griffin’s good ideas have come to him either in the weight room or on the tractor at his farm.

The idea to provide school supplies for the students at the elementary school that Griffin attended as a youngster came to him in the weight room eight years ago.

Griffin was then a defensive end for the Washington Redskins of the National Football League.

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He was a product of the peewee football programs in Brundidge and Pike County High School. He was drafted by the New York Giants out of the University of Alabama.

Even as he lived almost every little boy’s dream, Griffin didn’t forget his roots or the many hometown people who had supported and encouraged him over the years.

And it was there in the Redskins weight room, pumping iron, that he conceived the idea of donating school supplies to his elementary school.

On Monday, the first day of the 2012 school year, Griffin and his wife, Kimberly, were at Pike County Elementary School to, once again, hand out packets of school supplies to the children.

“If you want to affect change, start with the youth. They are our future.” Griffin said. “Give them an opportunity to succeed. God gives each one of us a talent and it’s up to us find our talent and to maximize that talent.”

Griffin said that he has been blessed that God gave him the talent to achieve his dream of playing professional football.

“When you discover your talent, you have to have the attitude that failure is not an option,” he said. “You have to believe that you can be successful right here in Brundidge. Right here in Pike County.”

Griffin said an education is essential to success no matter what road in life one takes.

By providing school supplies for the 400-plus students at PCES each year, Griffin hopes to convey that message to the students.

He could have chosen to give them a miniature football inscribed with Baby Bulldogs, but instead he elected to give them each an educational “toolbox.”

Anita Grant, PCES principal, said that through Griffin’s generosity, each student receives a packet that contains all the school supplies needed to get the school year off to a good start.

“Each packet has paper, pencils, markers, a school box, scissors, journals, crayons – everything on the lists that the students need,” she said. “This wonderful gift to the students allows their parents to spend their money on other things needed to start the school year. And, at PCES, we don’t have to worry that some of the children won’t have the supplies they need. Everyone has the same things and that’s good. And, we also have some extra supplies when the need arises. We are very appreciative of what Mr. Griffin does for our school and our students.”

Several parents stopped to express their personal appreciation to Griffin.

“Not having to buy school supplies allows us to focus on the other needs our children have,” said Dee Christian. “It shows that he cares about kids and wants them to succeed.”

Christian said the students respect and admire Griffin and want to be like him.

Tewanda Griffin said that Griffin didn’t let his success in the NFL change him.

“He has remained a part of the community,” she said. “You see him everywhere and he’s glad for you to come up and speak to him. He has been so good to the children of Pike County Elementary School. We need to put up a plaque here on the school grounds to brand Cornelius Griffin so that he will be forever remembered.”