WESTFIELD, Ind. -- The students at South View Elementary in Muncie, Indiana, are among many in Central Indiana who have a new benefactor. South View is a Title I school, defined by the U.S. Department of Education as one in which at least 40% of the student body comes from low-income families.
Even while in the throes of training camp, Ngakoue last week put out a Twitter request imploring local teachers to post links to their Amazon wish lists of school supplies for his review, noting that "surprises are my thing."
Eads was quite surprised when an Amazon delivery driver showed up to her home on Sunday evening with several boxes of snacks, books and assorted supplies for her students.
"When my husband went and got the packages and opened them up, it was from Yannick and I was immediately so emotional," Eads said. "For somebody to use their platform for so much good, when they don't know me or my kids or our circumstances, it was amazing. It just meant so much."
Eads won't be the only teacher to experience this. As of Monday, Ngakoue said he had fulfilled 31 wish lists and plans to continue until the number reaches 91 -- same as his jersey number. His tweet had 850 replies at the time.
Hey @Colts Nation - where are my LOCAL teachers at ? With school right around the corner and knowing the challenges of what you face getting the proper items in your classroom - I want to help . Please drop your Amazon Wishlists 👇🏾 so I can take a look - surprises are my thing 💯— Yannick Ngakoue (@YannickNgakoue) August 5, 2022
His motivation is simple: He has been where some of these kids currently are.
"Kids coming from backgrounds like mine, we don't have it like that," he said. "When you get to school a lot of times, you're happy because that's your first meal of the day."
Eads said her students are routinely short on supplies because of their families' challenging circumstances. Add to that teacher shortages and an overall lack of resources, and the job can sometimes feel thankless.
"There are definitely hard days," she said. "But I think the outcomes make it so worth it. To see kids make friends or to see a kid share something for the first time or to [understand] a concept that we've been working on for a long time, those little moments are enough to keep you hanging in there.
"It really is a blessing to get to work with our kids and our community. It's an honor. I get worked up talking about it. We're really lucky to serve the community the way we do. It's about the kids. And it's only right that we set them up for success. ... These kids deserve a chance just like everyone else."
Ngakoue recognizes those sacrifices. He referred to teachers as "superheroes" and said he's benefiting from helping them as much as they are from receiving his assistance. This effort is just the latest in a series of attempts to connect with the Central Indiana community he says feels "like home" for a player who has changed teams four times in the past two years.
"It feels better than getting a sack on Sunday," said Ngakoue, who was traded to Indianapolis from the Las Vegas Raiders in March. "And this isn't the end. No, sir. When you're giving back, it's bigger than football. At the end of the day, this game will be over with someday. So, I'm just happy I can leave my mark."