CLIPPERS HELP ‘RENEW HOPE’ WITH TEAMWORK AT THE TABLE EVENT
VENICE, Calif. – A large applause erupted from an assemblage of guests at the St. Joseph Center Tuesday afternoon as six Clippers players walked through the center’s gates and into a wide courtyard.
Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan, J.J. Redick, Byron Mullens, Willie Green and Antawn Jamison were on hand to help distribute turkeys, clothes, shoes, books, and additional food and supplies to families in need as part of the Clippers’ annual “Teamwork at the Table” event.
The event, now in its 25th year, is the culmination of the Los Angeles Clippers’ annual food and clothing drive and is made possible by the efforts of Clippers’ season ticket holders, the Los Angeles Clippers Foundation as well as Ralph’s and Food 4 Less.
“This is the 25th anniversary of the Clippers organization providing a turkey meal for our families,” St. Joseph Center Executive Director VaLecia Adams Kellum said. “It’s just a blessing because they’re doing something that we would never be able to do ourselves. We’ll serve probably 350 to 400 individuals today, lots of kids will be fed on Thursday because of the Clippers organization and Ralph’s-Food 4 Less.”
The area of Venice where St. Joseph Center is located, according to citydata.com, has a population nearly 20 percent below the poverty line. Adams Kellum said the center assists more than 6,500 individuals annually.
On Tuesday, the Clippers players greeted families as they walked around a u-shaped group of tables. They passed out supplies, helped carry items and generally shed joy. Jordan posed for pictures with young children and infants, with one child’s mother joking that the 6-foot-11 center seemed even taller in person. Paul and Redick, who were passing out large bags of groceries, were the first two players the guests saw as they entered the room.
The Clippers’ starting backcourt mates shook hands with each individual and wished them a “Happy Thanksgiving.”
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“I’m very grateful to be able to give back,” Redick said. “To be able to give back and be able to help people, it means a lot to me. I’m humbled by it, honestly.”
Paul said he felt similarly, and was especially touched by the children with their parents.
“It’s always special, especially to see the smiles on these families faces,” said Paul, who is a father of two. “Especially, the kids. A lot of times it’s very unique because the kids don’t even know what’s going on. They’re with their parents. For me, it’s an interesting perspective, being that I do have kids. Knowing that the parents here are just trying to provide for their kids and their families is just something special.”
As each guest made their way around the group of tables they were given sealed pie tins of pumpkin pie, clothes, where Mullens and Jamison helped them find appropriate sizes, and a variety of dress shoes and sneakers, where season-ticket holders were stationed.
One of the season-ticket holders was Lauria Croom, who has been a fan of the Clippers since their Sports Arena days. She said it personally felt good to give back, but was even more meaningful to see the group of players that she roots for making Thanksgiving possible for hundreds of families.
“For them to take the time out of their busy schedules and come and sit and give [people] turkeys or pass out shoes or books, I think that is a fantastic thing,”
Mullens knows exactly what many of the families are going through and the event seemed to strike a chord with him.
“For me, it feels really good because 10 years ago I was kind of in the same situation, me and my family,” Mullens said. “I remember this. This is what we needed and I would have loved to have someone do this for us. So, it feels extra special for me to be able to come here and give back.”
Adams Kellum added: “It’s so heart-warming. For the clients to see that the players are coming out and they don’t have to be here, but they are by choice, it’s really inspirational and I think it renews hope.”