Andre Johnson is accustomed to be on the receiving end of most gifts. He decided to turn the tables on Wednesday by donating $10,500 to the Houston Area Women's Center, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting survivors of domestic and sexual violence, as well as providing prevention education to the community.
The money, given on behalf of the Andre Johnson Foundation, was raised during last year's Andre Johnson Foundation Celebrity Weekend, where NFL players from around the league, including Washington's Clinton Portis and Cincinnati's Chad Johnson, united to help raise awareness and funds for charities such as the Houston Area Women's Center.
Johnson's generosity stems from his childhood experiences growing up in Miami, Fla.
"My biggest thing is working with kids in single-parent homes," he said. "I grew up in a single-parent home, so kids go through things. This was just something kind of different, helping battered women and things like that. Many kids are growing up with no father in their lives, so you definitely want to reach out to the moms."
The gift brought wide smiles to the faces of the employees at the Houston Area Women's Center, including senior vice president Cassandra Thomas.
Since entering the NFL, Johnson has discovered how much of an impact he can have in the community, and he relishes that role.
"You really don't realize (the impact you can have) until you get here," Johnson said. "A lot of times during the offseason when I'm at home (in Miami) I could be out in the street around my grandmother's house just throwing the ball with some kids and they go to their friends and say, 'Hey, I was out on the street playing catch with Andre,' and things like that. So just doing things like that, going out on the street and throwing balls with the kids and things like that, you really have a big effect on people."
After handing over the giant-sized check and posing for a few photo ops, Johnson took some time to answer questions about the 2007 draft. Having experienced the roller coaster ride in 2003, Johnson knows what many draft-eligible players are feeling right now, less than 24 hours before the draft begins.
"Half of them probably can't sleep," he said. "You just want to hear your name called. Of course, it sounds good to go first and things like that or be a top 10 pick. But just getting your name called is the biggest thing. Everyone wants to live their dream and they have that dream of playing in the NFL. On Saturday and Sunday, that dream gets to come through for those guys."
Regarding the positions he wants the Texans to select in the first round and beyond, Johnson said he wouldn't mind seeing another playmaker on offense.
"I mean, being a wide receiver, you always want to see another skilled guy come in that can help you out a lot, whether it's a running back, a wide receiver or whoever," Johnson said. "You just want to get the best player that's on the board at the time you pick."
Whether or not Johnson's wish is granted, he hopes that the rookies who join the team will be ready to contribute immediately.
"You definitely want a guy who can come in right away and have an impact on the team," Johnson said. "It doesn't matter whether it's offense, defense, offensive line or defensive line. You just want a guy who is going to go out and make a big impact. And when you get a guy like that, he's going to go out and help you win."