By Nick Gallo | Broadcast Reporter and Digital Editor | okcthunder.com
Competitiveness doesn’t stop on the doors of the Thunder ION. It even extends to giving back to the community.
After practice on Sunday, the Thunder organization posted up within the car parking zone outside of the Homeland location on Lincoln and thirty sixth Street in northeast Oklahoma City to present away turkeys and Thanksgiving food to families in need. Every time a automotive pulled as much as the drive through event, Thunder players burst into motion, attempting to load up the trunks with more efficiency and precision than the group next to them.
“Anytime we may give back to the community – the nice community that involves the games, supports us and shows us love – it’s a terrific opportunity,” said guard Josh Giddey. “It means quite a bit to all of the players and the organization to return back and provides back.”
As a component of the Thunder’s fifteenth annual Holiday Assist efforts, the Thunder teamed up with the Boys and Girls Club of Oklahoma County to donate 400 Thanksgiving dinners to families within the Oklahoma City metro area. The whole Thunder team, including Thunder Chairman Clay Bennett, teamed up together at five different stations. Thunder Drummers, Rumble and Thunder Girls entertained while they alerted families easy methods to navigate the drive through.
Surrounding picnic tables stuffed with bags, players were primed and able to deliver to families while Thunder staff emerged from below tents to replenish the tables with the quickness of a pit crew.
“The families just at all times appreciate an additional helping hand, especially this yr once we’ve all been coping with inflation and the prices have gone up quite a bit,” said Teena Belcik, CEO of Boys and Girls Club of Oklahoma County. “The Thunder has been our partner for the reason that day that they got to Oklahoma City. We’re so grateful for that partnership and luxuriate in that they achieve this many things, even behind the scenes that folks don’t find out about and do not see, in addition to things like this that more people do notice.”
“It was really wonderful with the ability to open this special Homeland here on the northeast side,” said Lauren Zappi, Homeland’s Marketing Director. “We have been open for just just a little bit over a yr. So this yr, it was great to find a way at hand out all of those holiday meals to those families at our recent store on the northeast.”
Because the event began, rookie forward Jaylin Williams took within the scene and reflected on his own journey. The 20-year-old thought back to his years growing up in Fort Smith, Ark., taking the bus from his school to his local Boys and Girls Club each afternoon. That was where his love for the basketball began. On the outset of his NBA profession, he was capable of return the blessings he’s had in his life.
“After I was younger, straight out of faculty, I might ride over to the Boys and Girls Club, stay over there until like 5 – 6 o’clock,” said Williams. “It was just an on a regular basis thing for me. I grew up within the Boys and Girls Club playing basketball there. I played football there and all that. So just seeing this just paying off, it’s just a special view of it. It’s crazy.”
Considered one of the cars that Williams and his teammates loaded up with food was driven by Irais Toscano, who was there with two of her children, Angel and Asa. Toscano’s two sons attend Girls and Boys Club at Sequoyah and revere the Thunder and its players. Due to a recent automotive accident, the Toscano family wasn’t sure how they’d find a way to afford a full Thanksgiving dinner. Sunday’s drive-through event by the Thunder and Homeland erased that worry.
“That’s a blessing. It’s very amazing for people to be generous and consider others during a festive time like this,” said Toscano. “I used to be telling Angel you don’t know what you possibly can achieve, where you possibly can be. You possibly can be something huge afterward. It starts from something little or someone being a backbone to you.”
In back seats, eyes of youngsters grew wide because the players approached each automotive, and oldsters smiled and sighed on the sight of their trunks full and youngsters awed. The vacation season could be a difficult time for families, so the players made sure to not only deliver the products but to do it with enthusiasm. Each station had developed a rhythm for efficiency, and even used some tricks from practice to get the job done right.
“Team A – we’re doing great communication over there. We’re working as a team. We’re doing call outs, all of that,” quipped Williams, who is understood for his booming voice as he calls out defensive coverages on the court.
Towards the top of the afternoon, the cars began to trickle in additional slowly however the players’ energy didn’t wane. Second-year guards Aaron Wiggins and Tre Mann crashed over to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Lu Dort’s station to beat them to the punch as a automotive arrived.
As he does on the court, Gilgeous-Alexander had a countermove. The subsequent time the staff called out that a automotive was en route, Gilgeous-Alexander busted across the corner to beat his teammates to the automotive, yes to get the bragging rights, but more importantly to make sure food can be on a family’s table come Thursday which may not have been there otherwise.