CHARLOTTE – In 16 seasons in the NFL, including 14 with the Carolina Panthers, Steve Smith made a big impact on the football field. The retired wide receiver is now working to make an even bigger impact off the field.
On Aug. 14, the children at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Charlotte felt that impact up close and personal.
Smith, through his Steve Smith Family Foundation, and Academy Sports, gave out dozens of backpacks stuffed with items such as footballs, soccer balls and mini drones to participants at the Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club in east Charlotte.
The giveaway was part of a program by the Smith Family Foundation and Academy Sports to provide 800 backpacks to youth in the Charlotte area, half of which went to the Boys and Girls Club.
Some of the backpacks were also distributed to Project 658, the Smith Family Wellness Center and McCrorey YMCA.
Smith, a native of California who now calls Waxhaw home, helped give out the backpacks and posed for pictures with each of the recipients. Smith is the Panthers’ all-time leader in total touchdowns (67), receptions (836) and receiving yards (12,197).
“We know there is a need here in Charlotte,” Smith said. “I want to have a bigger impact off the football field, so that is the goal. A lot of times you fall behind if you lack or are missing something. A backpack is really important.”
Academy regional marketing manager Josh Miller said the backpacks were stuffed with items that kids can have fun with outside.
Smith, and his wife Angie, formed their foundation in 2013. It is dedicated to providing hope and inspiration to people in need. Part of the foundation is the Smith Family Wellness Center in Charlotte, which is a clinic that has provided nearly 4,000 free medical and counseling appointments.