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Shaquille O’Neal is a big figure in sports. But he’s also a big figure in working to help young people through various charitable programs and the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. He and his mother, Lucille O’Neal, are working together with the Boys and Girl’s Clubs of America, of which Shaq was a member, to help bring awareness to their Back to School initiatives.

“Growing up it was a place that I could go and educate myself and learn my basketball skills,” Shaq told the Tom Joyner Morning Show. “Growing up in Newark, N.J. , it was a place that kept me out of trouble. My rules were go over there after school, do your homework, let them check your homework, then you play and then you don’t move until we get there.”

Lucille and Shaq are part of the Boys and Girls Clubs of America’s “Tools for School” campaign which helps gather supplies and other necessities for young people returning to school in the fall. In addition, Lucille encourages parents to keep their kids fresh over the summer so they’re not left behind when school reopens.

“What we do as parents we want to be able to reinforce the significance of learning. Have your kids read a book for a week. Learn how to read a newspaper so that when school is back in session, at least you’ll be ahead of the game. You can never learn enough.”

The Boys and Girls Clubs have a wealth of afterschool programs nationwide that help young people who otherwise wouldn’t have anything to do in the hours between the end of school and when parents come home.

The “Tools for School” program helps kids whose families would otherwise struggle to get backpacks, notebooks and other school supplies that kids need. You can donate to the program via the Boys and Girls Clubs of America website and take a quiz that contributes to the program via every correct answer. Boys and Girls Clubs has partnered with major retailers Michaels, Staples and Disney Stores that have in-store donation bins so that you can directly donate school supplies.

“Kids need to realize that education is very, very important,” Shaq says. “I remember one time when I was a sophomore in college and I came home and told my mother I wanted to go pro. She pulled out a little checkbook and said ‘Balance this.’ And I didn’t have my credits and debits right. She said, ‘You’re not ready yet.’ You have to educate yourself all the time.”

For more information on Boys and Girls’ Clubs of America and the “Tools For School” program, click here.

(Photo: Facebook)