By Nick Gallo | Broadcast Reporter and Digital Editor | okcthunder.com
Competitiveness would not cease on the Thunder ION’s doorstep. It even goes as far as to offer again to the neighborhood.
After Sunday’s observe, the Thunder group lined up within the car parking zone exterior the Homeland location on Lincoln and thirty sixth Road in northeast Oklahoma Metropolis to donate turkeys and meals Thanksgiving to households in want. Each time a automobile stopped for the drive via, Thunder gamers spring into motion, making an attempt to load the packing containers extra effectively and precisely than the group subsequent to them.
“Anytime we can provide again to the neighborhood — the nice neighborhood that involves the video games, helps us, and reveals us love — that is an excellent alternative,” mentioned guard Josh Giddey. “It means quite a bit to all of the gamers and the group to return again and provides again.”
As a part of the Thunder’s fifteenth annual vacation reduction efforts, the Thunder has partnered with the Boys and Women Membership of Oklahoma County to donate 400 Thanksgiving dinners to households within the Oklahoma Metropolis metro space. The whole Thunder staff, together with Thunder President Clay Bennett, teamed up at 5 totally different stations. Thunder Drummers, Rumble and Thunder Women entertained whereas alerting households on tips on how to navigate the drive.
Round picnic tables crammed with baggage, gamers had been primed and able to ship to households as Thunder employees emerged from tents to restock tables with the pace of a provide staff.
“Households all the time admire an additional serving to hand, particularly this yr once we’ve all been coping with inflation and prices have gone up quite a bit,” mentioned Teena Belcik, CEO of the Boys and Women Membership of Oklahoma County. “The Thunder have been our companions because the day they arrived in Oklahoma Metropolis. We’re so grateful for this partnership and admire that they achieve this many issues, even behind the scenes, that folks do not know and see, in addition to issues like this that extra folks discover.
“It was actually great to have the ability to open this particular Homeland right here on the northeast aspect,” mentioned Lauren Zappi, Advertising Director of Homeland. “Now we have been open for slightly over a yr. So this yr, it was nice to have the ability to distribute all of those vacation meals to those households at our new Northeast retailer.
Because the occasion started, rookie ahead Jaylin Williams entered the scene and mirrored on his personal journey. The 20-year-old thought again to his years in Fort Smith, Arkansas, taking the bus from his college to his native Boys and Women Membership each afternoon. That is the place his love for basketball started. Early in his NBA profession, he was in a position to return the blessings he had in his life.
“Once I was youthful, recent out of college, I might go to the Boys and Women Membership, keep there till 5 or 6,” Williams mentioned. “It was simply an on a regular basis factor for me. I grew up on the Boys and Women Membership enjoying basketball there. I performed soccer there and all that. So simply the act of To see it repay is only a totally different tackle it. It is loopy.”
One of many vehicles that Williams and his teammates loaded with meals was pushed by Irais Toscano, who was there with two of his kids, Angel and Asa. Each of Toscano’s sons attend the Women and Boys Membership of Sequoyah and revere the Thunder and its gamers. Because of a current automobile accident, the Toscano household did not know the way they might afford a full Thanksgiving dinner. Sunday’s drive-in occasion by the Thunder and Homeland erased that fear.
“It is a blessing. It is actually wonderful that individuals are beneficiant and consider others throughout a festive time like this,” Toscano mentioned. “I used to be telling Angel that you do not know what you can accomplish, the place you can be. You might be one thing big later. It begins with one thing small or somebody who’s your spine.
Within the again seats, the youngsters’s eyes widened because the gamers approached every automobile, and the mother and father smiled and sighed on the sight of their full trunks and the amazed kids. The vacation season could be a robust time for households, so gamers made positive to not solely ship the products, however do it with enthusiasm. Every station had developed a rhythm of effectivity and even used just a few methods from the observe to do the job nicely.
“Crew A – we do nice communication there. We work as a staff. We make calls, stuff,” joked Williams, who is understood for his booming voice as he calls defensive protection on the sphere.
In the direction of the tip of the afternoon, the vehicles began to reach extra slowly however the vitality of the gamers didn’t weaken. Second-year guards Aaron Wiggins and Tre Mann crashed into the station of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Lu Dort to beat them to the fist as a automobile approached.
As he does on the pitch, Gilgeous-Alexander had a counter transfer. The subsequent time the employees introduced a automobile was on the best way, Gilgeous-Alexander rushed across the nook to beat his teammates to the automobile, sure for bragging rights, however extra importantly once more to ensure meals can be on a household’s desk on Thursday. it won’t have been there in any other case.