The little online fund that Houston Texans star J.J. Watt started a week ago is chugging along with $20 million in its sights and Watt, who called the burgeoning fund “a testament to how much good there is in the world,” took his initial steps toward physically helping the victims of Hurricane Harvey.
Without spending “a cent” in the first phase of his operation, Watt, whose Youcaring fund has grown from his modest hopes for $200,000 to more than $18 million as of Sunday, and his Texans teammates headed out from NRG Stadium to distribute 10 truckloads of goods — all of which were donated — to some of the devastated area’s neediest people.
There were 10 semis loaded with food, water, clothing and other necessities and the Texans tweeted a photo of the team and family members who had gathered to go to work on the last free Sunday before the NFL season opens.
As amazing as the scene was, Watt told the group that “not one single dollar” from his fund had yet been spent. Sunday’s effort was what he said was Phase 1 of a lengthy period of recovery and Watt wants to proceed deliberately and smartly with the money that more than 150,000 donors have contributed. Sunday’s 10 truckloads of good were aimed at helping those with immediate needs at four stations in the hardest-hit areas.
Phase 2 will be more deliberate. “Once we do start spending that money,” Watt said, “this is my plan. Just to give you an idea where we’re at now, so you can understand me, because I know people are trusting me with their money to make sure that I make the right decisions.
“I’m taking my time. I’m going to make sure that I do this right. This is a long-term project, not a one-day, a one-week, a one-year project.”
Watt says he has spoken with people from Team Rubicon, which says its mission is to unite “the skills and experiences of military veterans with first responders to rapidly deploy emergency response teams,” and from the St. Bernard Project, a nonprofit started to rebuild homes destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in St. Bernard Parish and Southeast Louisiana.
Watt added that he has talked with Katrina veterans and tried to learn from what they did, both right and wrong. “The biggest thing everybody keeps telling me is: Take your time; make sure you do it right. So that’s exactly what I’m going to do.”
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