NORTH PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- When students at James Blane Elementary arrived at school on Wednesday, they had no idea they were about to come face-to-face with one of the most popular names in music - rapper, Meek Mill.
Just months after being released from prison, and while he appeals decade-old gun and drug convictions, Mill is focusing his energy on the community by giving back to students at his former school in North Philadelphia.
A few hundred unsuspecting students at the elementary school filed into the auditorium for what they thought was just another school assembly. Then, as the curtains opened - the kids went wild.
There were some tears, a lot of screaming and of course some disbelief.
"It's nice to have a celebrity come in and give their time to be with our kids and to show them they matter," said Mayor Jim Kenney.
Meek Mill dropped by the elementary school to personally hand out Puma backpacks. A total of 6,000 are being donated to 12 Philadelphia schools, each filled with much-needed school supplies for students whose parents often struggle to purchase them.
"Our families are always in need of book bags, school supplies, uniforms and additional things that they use throughout the year," said principal, Gianeen Anyika.
"This is about an individual who attended this school. And what he represents to the students is the fact that he was successful no matter the challenges, but more importantly that he is also giving back to his community," said Dr. William R. Hite, Superintendent, School District of Philadelphia.
The 29-year-old Philly native also attended the school, a fact that left students both stunned and proud.
"Only message I want the kids to get from me is that anything is possible and never let anything hold you back and keep moving forward," he said.
Meek Mill is set to personally deliver additional book bags Thursday afternoon at another Philadelphia school.
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Meek Mill surprises North Philadelphia students with new backpacks
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