JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Solomon Kindley doesn’t remember how many times that they came back, but the point was delivered time and again with every former player that returned to Raines.
When you have a chance to give back, do it.
When you deliver a message, mean it.
Whether that’s with words or with gifts, Kindley said that he listened when Vikings products like Brian Dawkins and Lito Sheppard returned to 3663 Raines Avenue with messages of their own.
Now, in a position to give back in his own way, Kindley, an offensive lineman coming off his rookie season with the Miami Dolphins, did just that on Friday. He showed up with a carload full of laptop computers and gave them to Raines students. Kindley hand delivered 22 new Lenovo laptops to students at the school.
Kindley also donated 22 laptops to students at S.P. Livingston Elementary and 22 to S.A. Hull Elementary. The 22 totals at three locations add up to 66, Kindley’s jersey number.
“They [former players] talked to me and it really stuck with me,” he said. “So, it was like, they can do it, I can do it. They came from the same part of the city where I’m from. They played at the same high school. They played just as good as me or even better, so it was like, ‘why can’t I do it?’ So, that’s my biggest thing. I want to give the kids and the community, and the kids at Raines, hope. You can do it, no matter what.”
The selected students were told shortly before 1 p.m. to meet in the school’s office for a surprise.
“It was a complete surprise,” said Raines student Amber Ferrell. “I got called out of class, I was like, ‘what do they need me in the office for?’ They were like, ‘it’s a surprise, it’s a surprise.’ And it was a great surprise. I really needed this computer. It was a complete surprise. But I am completely honored for someone from Raines’ history to come back and give back to the community.”
Just as Kindley was once inspired by others who came before him, his generosity did the same.
“I was completely surprised, caught off guard a bit,” said senior Robert Jones. “I was pleasantly surprised. It was a laptop I very much needed. It inspires me because it makes me want to give back to my community later on in my life and in my career.”
That’s a message that resonates with Kindley.
He said that it’s just his nature to want to do something when he can. But doing it for students at his alma mater is personal because it’s what Raines alums before him did.
“They came back and just inspired me,” Kindley said of former Raines players who came back to the school, sometimes with gifts, but most times with just their presence.
“One of my biggest things is, I don’t want to be known just as a football player. I want to be known as a great person in the community and a leader off the field because football’s not always going to be there. Everybody’s going to have to remember you for something else, I don’t want to just be remembered for football.”
Raines coach Donovan Masline, who was an assistant during Kindley’s four seasons with the Vikings, said that the tradition of previous players returning and giving back is alive and well.
“It definitely makes a huge impact. In order to give back, you have to see it done first,” Masline said. “And that was just instilled in him in from those great young guys coming back and talking to him and expressing the importance of giving back to the community, giving back to the school in which you came from. Because without the school who knows?
“It’s definitely always an impact for guys to come back and just pour into the program because somebody poured into you as you were coming through the program. So, it’s definitely great to see it continue on with Solomon.”