Shaq gifts tablets for Wichita kids

Storytime Village normally gives out books, but Saturday, they gave away tablets donated by Shaquille O'Neal.
Published: Nov. 19, 2022 at 10:06 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) -Families filled into Century II as Storytime Village distributed the free tablets donated by NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal.

Storytime Village is typically known for donating books to help encourage reading.

Parents and kids started lining up at 9 am Saturday to get one of the free tablets for qualifying families. It came preloaded with resources and activities.

Storytime Village founder and CEO Prisca Barnes said, “Digital equity is so very important. There are a lot of children, they might have to go to an area fast food store or something like that just to do their homework, and that is something we don’t want to see happen. Right now, the internet is the way we access everything, and we want to make sure that we close the gap and then make sure that the kids have resources, and we really want to make sure that they have some literary resources.”

The devices are from Moolah Wireless, which provides a year of internet service.

Families qualifying for these devices were those with an income within federal poverty guidelines or receiving benefits such as EBT, SNAP, Medicaid, Free Lunch programs, or Pell grants.

“We’re seeing some joy on the parents and the children’s faces, and we know it’s going to change their lives,” said Barnes.

Shaq was in Wichita during the Kansas Literacy Festival Hoops for Literacy event in September. It was because of his challenge of a Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Deputy that made the donation possible. Deputy Vince Folston was there to help with the distribution.

Deputy Vince Folston said, “At halftime, I went up to [Shaq] and talked to him. I’m like, ‘hey man, sorry I missed that dunk. I’ll get it back in the second half.’ Then he chuckled and like, ‘if you don’t get a dunk in the second half, you’re not getting an autograph.’”

Just before the second half started, Deputy Folston said Shaq called him out and said if Deputy Folston made a dunk, he would buy tablets and shoes. Deputy Folston made that dunk.

“I got kids coming up hugging me, telling me ‘thank you,’” he said. “I’m like, Shaq bought the computers, but it was awesome of him to put that pressure on me to make the dunk.”

If families registered but didn’t get their tablets Saturday, they will have one mailed to them.

Next month, they’re giving away shoes. Shaq will be sending 1,000 pairs.