The event is set up to help provide toys, clothing, meals, and more to underprivileged youth. This year, more than 500 children were in attendance.
The event originally began when O’Neal’s mother, the originator of the Shaq-O-Claus visited a Boys and Girls Club and asked her son for some help years ago.
“She didn't want to ask me for the money to buy all the kids' toys. So she said, I need some of the money and I said, nope, can’t do that. I’ll take care of it,” said O’Neal.
O’Neal attributes his childhood as part of the reason why giving these gifts is so important.
“I never had stuff like this. On certain days, I woke up with no toys. I just want to be able to take care of the kids,” said O’Neal.
Shaq-A-Claus has expanded to five states since its start in 1997 and it’s only the beginning of O’Neal’s vision for this event.
"My goal before I leave this earth is to have a Shaq-A-Claus marathon where I get 50 of my biggest friends and we just take care of 50 states,” said O’Neal.
This year, Shaq-A-Claus will check the following items off holiday wish lists:
- Tonka Toys and Trucks
- Alkaline88 refreshments
- A selection of snacks courtesy of Frito-Lay
- $100.00 Walmart gift cards for all 5th-grade students and their families donated by Pepsi Stronger Together
- Hobbytron gifts by World Tech Toys
- Fresh haircuts by Great Clips
- Jackets and socks from the Macy's and Soles4Souls partnership
- Vera Bradley backpacks
- Dixon Ticonderoga school supplies