Durant, Westbrook and Others Give Back at Holidays
The line of families at the People’s Church in north Oklahoma City didn’t just go out the door, it wrapped all the way around the building.
On December 18th, the morning after a Thunder road victory over the Denver Nuggets, Kevin Durant hosted his first annual Toy Giveaway in an event that was open to the public. Members of the Oklahoma City community traveled from all corners of the city to get a chance to meet Durant, in addition to being able to get a free toy for their child. The energy was electric throughout the afternoon as families swung through the line where Durant was handing out specific toys to boys and girls of all age groups.
“Christmas-time is always a time of giving and seeing smiles,” Durant said. “It’s my favorite time of the year.”
From six-year olds who got their very first bicycle from Durant to grandmothers who simply wanted to give Durant a kiss on the cheek to show their appreciation, every person who stepped into People’s Church had their lives touched by Durant’s generosity.
Basketball also seemed to be on the mind, as Durant exclaimed “great choice” when a boy selected a basketball over a super-soaker, and Durant smiled wide when a young girl turned around after getting a Barbie and said, “Can I get a basketball instead?”.
The toys, especially the Durant-signed basketballs, were a huge hit, but it was the emotional gift that Durant gave by showing his fellow Oklahomans that they are important and that he cares was the best present of all.
“It’s a big deal,” a mother of four named Kim said. “The kids get to have a good Christmas now.”
“It speaks volumes of Kevin’s heart to give back to the community, to be a part of his community and bless kids,” People’s Church Directof of Creative Arts Brian Rush said. “It’s amazing. It really shows that he loves his city and wants to impact the community as well.”
The joy Durant brought to the lives of those who attended last Wednesday was only rivaled by the way the perennial All-Pro forward felt as his afternoon at People’s Church was coming to a close. Durant looked over the enormous stack of autographed photos that had dwindled down and the massive pile of presents that had been divvied out to families in need of a wonderful holiday memory and with a smile of satisfaction and happiness, was able to feel great about his event.
“I’m definitely grateful and blessed for this opportunity,” Durant said. “I know I have a responsibility to be the best person I can be and lead by example and give them hope.”
Durant wasn’t the only player who gave back this holiday season, as Russell Westbrook hosted his annual Christmas event with Citizens Caring for Children in conjunction with his Why Not? Foundation. Westbrook gave away basketball shoes, backpacks and other goodies as he hosted a lunch for children living in foster care. Across town, Andre Roberson and Hasheem Thabeet swung by the Fifth Street Baptist Church to give away turkey dinners to those who live in the church’s downtown Oklahoma City neighborhood.
In addition, Kendrick Perkins participated in a traditional Thunder-hosted event, taking a family-in-need on a Homeland shopping spree to help them get all of their groceries and necessities for the holiday season.
The Thunder is active in the community in November and December with its Holiday Assist program, but over the past few weeks, these Thunder players decided to go beyond the call of duty. By showing that they were willing to go the extra mile, they not only helped those in need, but gave the precious gift of happiness to those who could use a smile.