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Pacers and Fever Team up with JAKKS Pacific

by Scott Agness | @ScottAgness

December 9, 2013

For the fourth consecutive year, the Indiana Pacers and Fever partnered with JAKKS Pacific, a leading U.S. toy company, to donate toys to 50 deserving Central Indiana community organizations and underprivileged children.

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More than 30,000 toys were given away this Holiday season, upping the organization’s total for the year to over 50,000. In the four years of this program, in excess of 175,000 toys have been donated to children across Indiana.

The announcement was made Monday at Stout Field, home of the Indiana National Guard, with a dozen dignitaries on hand.

“The NBA has NBA Cares program where all the teams give back to their community,” said Pacers and Fever owner Herb Simon. “We think we do it as well, if not better, than everybody. And we really owe our being here to the community, so why not support them also.”

Simon is a friend with Stephen Berman, the President and CEO of JAKKS Pacific, Inc., which is based in California. It was their friendship that brought Berman to Indiana years ago for the first time. Monday, he was back to see the event through and some of the kids it was benefiting.

“He was not happy just sending us toys,” Simon explained. “He said, ‘Herb, I really want to see the joy on the faces of the children as we give out toys.’”

“To give is very easy,” said Berman, whose company has donated over $50 million to help underprivileged children around the world. “But to get the hands in the correct hands of individuals, and organizations is quite difficult … and they’ve done the best job that I’ve ever seen.”

The Pacers team returned from a nine-day road trip early Monday morning and even though they had the day off, coach Frank Vogel along with Roy Hibbert, Orlando Johnson and C.J. Watson made it to Stout Field to show their support. They interacted with the dozens of kids that attended, signed autographs and helped them choose just the right toy.

“I’m very proud of our guys,” Simon said. “These people didn’t have to come today. They got in the this morning at 2 o’clock in the morning and they’re giving away toys and it makes you feel good.”

Added Vogel: “This team, more than any team I’ve ever been with, is more active and giving back to the community and spending time with the community. With our owner parenting up with JAKKS Toys to give out so many toys during the Holiday season, is something that I think we all wanted to be part of.”

Coach Vogel has two young daughters, so he has first-hand knowledge of how special a toy can be to a kid and how it can brighten their spirits.

“Their face light up and it makes their day,” he said. “That occupies their whole day, and often times many days and many weeks. It’s just a special thing to be a part of.”

Following the news conference, which also included Pacers Sports & Entertainment President Jim Morris, Brig. Gen. Brian Copes from Shelbyville, Fever coach Lin Dunn and sharpshooter Katie Douglas, the group formed a “Human Line of Joy” to load toys on to a military truck.

Executing such a big task was a team effort. Last week, Pacers Sports & Entertainment employees volunteered their time at the facility to assemble pallets of toys for the organizations based on their needs.

Last month, the organization hosted their annual Thanksgiving meal for hundreds of homeless citizens in Indianapolis. Once again this year, they’re ensuring thousands of kids will not be without a toy this Holiday season.

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