(CBS) –Many professional athletes are known for sporting fashionable shoes and clothes. Today dozens of those high-end items now belong to some South Side teens.
CBS 2’s Mai Martinez takes a look a unique program that’s giving troubled youth new clothes and a new outlook on life.READ MORE: Illinois To Enter 'Bridge Phase' Of Reopening Plan On Friday, Full Reopening Possible By June 11
For most teens, a new school year means new clothes. That can be very expensive, but not in this case. The clothes are free, thanks to donations to Home Team Closet.
“A lot of stuff coming here is from professional athletes so it’s some of the hippest, newest stuff,” former Bear D.J. Williams said.
Williams says something as simple as having nice clothes can make a big difference in a kid’s life.
“When they go to school and they walk in the door, they’re comfortable, you know,” Williams said. “They’re not worried about being teased about their clothing items or this or that. They fit in, so they can relax and then you can really sit and focus on things like school.”
Cubs pitcher Jason Hammel agrees.
“We weren’t well-off,” Hammel said. “I didn’t come from money, so I can appreciate the situation these guys are in.”READ MORE: Museum Of Science And Industry Reimagines Aviation For Passengers In 'Take Flight'
In addition to the clothes, the athletes spend time with the teens, mentoring them. Chicago Bear Lamarr Houston says his greatest piece of advice is stay in school.
“They have to manage their time and dedicate time and put into building their education in order to have success in life,” Houston said.
18-year-old Ray Rushing says it means everything, “Because they made it through the streets too, even if they’re not from Chicago, but they made it.”
16-year-old Jasper Robinson said, “It shows that people care, and they understand that it’s people out here that are struggling.”
But of course for the kids, it’s also pretty cool to be sporting clothing that a pro athlete donated. Even cooler is being able to hang out with them for an afternoon.
“Sometimes you don’t understand how you can have an effect on someone’s life by just giving them an encouraging word or trying to show them a different path in life,” Houston said.MORE NEWS: 'It’s Better Than All The Holidays Rolled Into One': Parents Excited About Their Kids Getting The COVID Shot
Joakim Noah, Jon Bostic and Antrel Rolle also donated items for the giveaway. The program focuses on high-school and college-age boys but plans to expand to include girls and families very soon.