49er defensive tackle Deforest Buckner treats San Jose kids to shopping spree

A group of East San Jose students got an early holiday gift, courtesy of a San Francisco 49er player, and the Levi’s Store in Westfield Valley Fair Mall. Hours before the official opening, the store was teaming with activity. Twenty 8th grade student-leaders from LeyVa Middle School have $100 and 90 minutes to find something fashionable for the holidays..

“Sometimes we don’t get appreciation like at our school or at home. So this is a great opportunity for us to do some shopping. The holiday is coming up. We could buy some stuff for our families,” said LeyVa student Zinnia Garcia.

The brief, early morning shop stop is a collaborative effort between between 49er defensive tackle DeForest Buckner, Levi’s, and the non-profit Beyond Differences, which works to end bullying. Buckner is a terror on the field, but before NFL fame, he was on the short end of bullying as a child..

“Just looking a little different compared to everybody else. A lot of kids go through it,” said Buckner.

The goal of the Beyond Differences campaign is to foster inclusiveness.. Buckner and Levi’s provided each child with funds to shop. The potential all-pro is auctioning his “My Cleats, My Cause” game-worn footware for the anti-bullying cause.

“We wanna make sure everybody is getting along. Everybody has somebody. Everybody has their crew. Everybody has their friend. And so we spend a lot of time looking for kids that need that sense,” said Aaron Brengard, the LeyVa Middle School principal.

By late morning, the teen shoppers and their supporters departed the Levi’s Store with smiles, clothing, and a message. Be kind and include everyone, because the kid bullied today, could become a fierce force wreaking havoc on the football field tomorrow..