Former FSU, NFL player finds way to give back with backpack giveaway, football clinic

James Coleman (WJXT)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville students will have an opportunity to get what they need for school thanks to a former college and NFL player.

James Coleman won several ACC championships at Florida State and took his talents to the NFL.

Saturday morning, he is hosting his annual school supply giveaway and will have a football camp for students on Sunday afternoon.

Coleman plans to distribute at least 2,000 backpacks filled with school supplies along with bags of groceries with the help of Farm Share. That will happen at Long Branch Elementary School on Franklin Street in the Tallyrand neighborhood starting at 9 a.m. until supplies run out.

Coleman started doing this back in 2020 around the time of his birthday. He was looking for a way to help those in need when the COVID-19 pandemic started.

“If there is a need, again, all that does is present an opportunity for me to fulfill that need,” he said. “Not just me, but the people who are involved with it. I am just grateful.”

Coleman is following the giveaway with a football clinic for students of all ages on Sunday at University Christian School on University Boulevard from 2 to 5 p.m.

“It makes me realize that I am just doing my small part to continue to change the world,” Coleman said. “Everybody talks about changing the world, and everybody talks about how bad things are, but people are not getting active.”

Coleman was born and raised in Tallahassee. He currently lives in Jacksonville.

“I think where you come from you have an obligation to give a hand up and give back,” Coleman said. “Wherever you are, you have an obligation to set your roots there. It is all about continuing to set the right example.”

He said he hopes these giveaways are not only impactful but inspiring to the next generation.

“Go somewhere where people do not look like you,” Coleman said. “Go somewhere where you’re not used to going and show them that positiveness. Show them that you are giving. What will happen is it will find the next James Coleman that will go on and play at Florida State and play in the NFL. The next thing you know he is doing community givebacks or the female version [of that scenario]. That is what we really need to be doing.”

The James Coleman giveaway weekend is already expanding to other parts of Florida.

He holds these special events in Tallahassee and Jacksonville.

This summer was the first time he did a giveaway in Orlando.

“This is my baby right here,” Coleman said. “Every year I try to push myself because I am competitive and goal oriented. If we do 2,000 [backpacks] this year, my goal is how do we do 3,000 next year? How do we continue to expand it and how do we work with organizations to be able to meet people where they are at?”

In his collegiate playing career, Coleman competed in four New Year’s Day Bowl games the Las Vegas All-American Bowl.

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