TV star buys shirts for job-seekers

Charles Payne, a Fox Business Network host, shows off the shirts he pre-purchased for young Bronx job-seekers on his show.
Photo courtesy of Fox Business Network

A television star who grew up in poverty is giving 50 shirts and ties to young men going on job interviews.

Fox Business Network host Charles Payne recently purchased 50 white shirts and ties for young men in the Bronx who are looking for work and can’t afford proper interview attire. said the idea came from a visit with his godson in the Bronx, who had just come back from a job interview in a black dress shirt that you could wear to a club.

When Payne asked him why he wasn’t wearing a white shirt and tie, his godson said he didn’t know that he should have, and he wasn’t in a position to buy them right now. The exchange left him thinking about the other kids in the neighborhood in his godson’s position, said Payne.

“It kept gnawing at me,” he said.

He decided he could provide the shirts for Bronx youth, and with the help of his sister-in-law Yolanda Esbri, bought the 50 shirts and ties at Portebello clothing store in Castle Hill.

It was important to him that the young men have to go outside to a physical store instead of getting it on the internet, he said, because showing up in person is an important part of looking for a job.

“You have to hit the bricks,” he said.

He wants to spread the message that you should look sharp no matter what type of job you’re applying to, said Payne, because appearances matter.

“You’ve got one shot to impress someone,” he said.

But why a white shirt? Payne said it’s because a white shirt means business.

“It’s a sign or respect, a sign of seriousness,” he said.

In addition to providing assistance with their presentation, Payne’s also offering help with resumes. He said he’s encouraging, but not requiring, the young men who ask for shirt to bring in a resume that Payne or others will offer feedback on.

To get a shirt, young job seekers should head to Portebello at 845 White Plains Rd. in Castle Hill, ask for Doctor Manuel and mention Payne. Payne’s sister-in-law is also visiting local schools to get the word out, and Payne said he hopes he has to buy another round of 50 shirts and ties.

“I hope I can help a lot of these kids,” said Payne. “I remember how tough it was.”

He spent the second half of his childhood growing up poor in Harlem, Payne said, and he had to start working right out of high school. His godson left college after a year to work and help support his family, and Payne knows there are lots of other kids in the same situation.

“These kids, they want to work,” he said. “That’s the most beautiful part.”

When he was young and struggling, people in his community helped him out, Payne said, and he wants to pass the same type of help along. He said he’ll never forget the person who gave him a watch, or the one that gave him a discount at a clothing store.

“It just takes a few people along the way to give you a sense of hope,” he said.

Reach Reporter Jaime Williams at (718) 742–3383. E-mail her at

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