Elsa dolls, toy airplanes, and Transformers overflowed from shopping carts at the Toys "R" Us checkout. Giddy children sped through the aisles donning enormous smiles. Grandparents and parental guardians stood in the background, some wiping happy tears from their faces.
Andre Claus has come to town.
Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson hosted his annual holiday shopping spree at Toys "R" Us on Tuesday morning, giving 11 children selected by Child Protective Services 80 seconds to fill their bins with as many items as possible, compliments of the Andre Johnson Charitable Foundation.
With the help of Houston Texans Cheerleaders, the children collected $16,266 worth of toys for themselves and their siblings. Each participant was also guaranteed an entertainment system of their choice and two video games.
"I'm pretty sure this is breathtaking for them," Johnson said. "I couldn't imagine this as a child. 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. That's why I do it."
Georgia Gay's grandson Benjamin was one of the kids selected for the shopping spree. Both of them beamed ear-to-ear as they waited for the festivities to begin.
"This is such a wonderful, wonderful blessing," Georgia said. "Can you put words on this? You can't put words on this. Especially as parents and grandparents, some of these things we won't be able to buy at this time. I thank God for this, and I thank Andre Johnson for this."
All of the children who participated in the shopping spree have been exposed to parental abuse of some form and now live with an extended family member as their primary caretaker. For Johnson, bringing a smile to their faces was particularly meaningful.
"Everybody just says thank you. 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 dont have to worry about it. I'm glad to take that burden off of them."