(CBS)- Lawrence Guy was recognized as one of the Patriots leaders when he was named a team captain entering this season. As he leads the team on the field, he's continuing to work to be a leader for local kids off it as well.
Last week, Guy hosted his 9th Back to School event, joining forces with Crossroads in surprising 150 underprivileged students between the ages of 14 and 18 in the area with school supplies they need to maintain as much normalcy as they can in what is a different school year.
The event was different this year of course, going virtual due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, but Guy navigated around that by holding a Zoom call with all of the kids opening the floor for their questions and providing advice to help them feel comfortable in what is an uncertain year.
"They were able to see my reaction as they got to ask a lot of questions and get into their comfort zones, embracing what is truly going on in the world," said Guy in an interview with CBS Local's Ryan Mayer. "A lot of people have a different experience with their families. If somebody lost a job and they can't get supplies, or they have to find out who they're going to get supplies for. Are they going to get it for one kid and not the other? We're able to actually help the whole family out. It's really a blessing to be able to continue to do this after nine years and continue to build this foundation and leave a footprint in the community."
The different format also sparked an idea for another way to help these students throughout the year. In a time where leaving the house is kept to a minimum, staying inside all day can take a toll on everyone's mental health, especially teenagers used to getting the opportunity to interact daily with their friends during the school year.
Guy's wife Andrea saw the opportunity to try and address those feelings by including journals for the kids in their supplies, asking them to write how they're feeling, what they're experiencing daily. Then, each month, all kids in the program will hop on a call with Guy and have the opportunity to share and discuss if they want to.
"We can see how the progress is going through this new way of learning. It's meant to give them an outlet where they can express their emotions and we can mentor them throughout this school year," said Guy. "That is a big thing that is different this year and we want to keep it."
For Guy, helping underprivileged kids have the tools they need to succeed in school is very personal. He dealt with a learning challenge in school and knows how difficult school can be without having those tools are your disposal. For him, it's about using his platform to provide those opportunities and the motivation needed to succeed.
"People get labeled as a bad student or a lazy worker and sometimes they don't have the materials or that extra push from somebody to drive them to be better than what they are. Or some people feel like it's too late for them," said Guy. "For us, I share my story to show, it's never too late. As long as you have a goal in mind and you have an idea that you can be the best you and you have your own world in your hands, you can achieve anything that you put your mind to."
"These kids want to learn. They want to come and reach their full potential and we're just helping them out with a little extra materials," Guy continued.
That message resonates from Guy because of the path he has taken. A 7th round pick in 2011, he spent the first several years of his career trying to find a home in the league. Eventually, he found that home, first in Baltimore and now in New England where he is viewed as a leader by his teammates, evidenced by that captain's C on his chest.
"It's a true honor. It really shows how the people in the locker room look up to you and how they react to your character as a man and as a player on and off the field. I was truly blessed to hear that news. All that shows me everything I do on that field I'm doing it to be a leader to my teammates," said Guy. "Everything I do off the field, I'm doing the same thing to be a leader to my teammates. They're looking up to me in a way that whatever I experience throughout the NFL and throughout life, they're going to ask me, 'how can I help?' That is the biggest honor."
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