Some public figures donate for the publicity. For the cameras. In 2016, maybe for the tweets.
That’s not the case at all with Wolves guard Zach LaVine.
On Monday, LaVine helped unveil a new kitchen at the Metro Deaf School in St. Paul. LaVine donated $10,000 for the kitchen. The money was a portion of his Slam Dunk Contest winnings.
This wasn’t an in-and-out trip for LaVine, though. In fact, it was his fourth time at the school and only the second with any media members there.
“It’s beyond just that touch-and-go,” said Dr. Susan Lane-Outlaw, the executive director of the school. “I think it’s easy for athletes to come in and do a one-time ‘Yay, I’m here.’ Often, he’s not here with media. I think this is the second time we’ve had media here, which to me, is much more of a relationship.”
So, why did LaVine pick the Metro Deaf School?
When LaVine was in high school, he and one of his friends decided that instead of taking Spanish, they would take an American Sign Language class instead.
LaVine said the two would use Sign to communicate on the basketball court, and a lot of people thought they were trying to replicate signs baseball players do. But quickly, LaVine became more interested.
“I used to go out and communicate with the deaf community and I learned a little bit of their culture,” LaVine said. “And just giving back to something (that) doesn’t get enough recognition would be kind of cool.”
During LaVine’s visits to the school, he realized that the school didn’t really have a kitchen/cafeteria area, something that holds plenty of memories for him during his time in school.
“That was my favorite part during school,” LaVine said. “It was something different.”
Before LaVine donated money for a new kitchen, the school actually had to cater in food for meals, something that was a huge inconvenience. Along with eating food made in the school, LaVine thought it would also give the students a chance to get to know each other.
“The biggest part when I was growing up was interacting with kids during lunchtime and recess, and they get all their meals catered in, so I thought it was a good idea for them to socialize and hang out with each other and eat food together, ”LaVine said. “I put in the cafeteria in so they can have a little bit more socialized time.”
If the students pass their Accelerated Reader test, LaVine promised them he’ll be back to pay them a visit. But judging from all the smiles around the room during the day, there’s a good chance he’ll be back either way.
“I think I’ve came at least three or four times just to interact with them and show I’m here,” LaVine said. “I can talk to them and if they look up to me and I can make their day brighter or something like that, I’m all for it.”