Carts Full of Food and Kids Full of Questions

Nick Collison takes a Norman family on a Homeland shopping spree

The Jackson family stood just a little ways from the entrance to the Homeland store in Norman on Monday afternoon, nervous with the anticipation that someone special to them was about to walk through the door.

When Thunder center Nick Collison – unmistakable given his height and the “Thunder Cares” T-shirt he was sporting – stepped inside, the three youngest kids could hardly contain their excitement.

“I’ve seen those kids pretty happy before, but nothing like this,” said Robyn Weiser, a counselor at Norman’s Kennedy Elementary, where the two youngest boys attend school. “I was with them when Nick walked in the building, and they just started screaming.”

Throughout the course of the next hour, Collison helped the family fill several carts’ worth of groceries, courtesy of Homeland and the Thunder.

The younger kids – Tristan, 11; Jayden, 9; and Casey, 7 – knew that getting the groceries was important. They have been taking part in the Food for Kids backpack program, which is administered by the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma.

But they were much more interested in Collison, who, while helping pick out groceries, also answered a barrage of questions from the excited and curious boys – ranging from asking if he dunks to asking if he had a peanut allergy.

“It’s a good group of guys, a lot of fun to be with,” Collison said. “(They’re) a really good, strong family and could use a little help. We all could use a little help at times, so it’s great the (Thunder) organization allows us to do things like this and help out in the community.”

The boys’ father, Dwight Jackson Sr., was clearly heartened by the boys’ excitement, but perhaps he understood more than they did the full meaning of what was happening that afternoon.

“It felt good, and it came right in time, too. Came right in time,” Dwight Sr. said.

“I got nervous at first because I’ve never done nothing like this before … Then I started figuring it out and saying, ‘We can actually have that? We can actually buy this?’”

Dwight, Sr., has multiple sclerosis, so at times he was trailing behind Collison and his active sons. That worked to his advantage, though, when he saw that the boys had passed the produce section without selecting enough fresh vegetables. He took more time in that aisle and picked out several nutritious greens while the rest of the group moved ahead.

“They are just an awesome, awesome family,” noted Weiser, who nominated them for the shopping trip. “The kids are really friendly and outgoing. They do whatever they can for other people, and this just happens to be a year where they really need some extra support themselves.”

When the food had all been put into sacks to take home, Collison took a few moments to say goodbye to the family and to leave them with a few more special items.

He autographed a few photos for the boys, then presented Dwight Sr. with a final gift – a Homeland gift card that would enable them to return and buy just as much food as they picked out on the shopping spree.

“I’m just part of the organization here today. I’m fortunate to be able to meet these folks and have fun. But I think it’s a really cool part of our job to be able to get out into the community and do something for somebody else. It makes you feel good,” Collison added.

He wasn’t the only one who walked away from the afternoon feeling good.

“Man, that’s just – just blessed,” said Dwight Jr., the eldest son of the group, describing his feelings on the day and the extra gift his family was able to take home. “There’s not really too much you can say about it. To sum it up, you can just say blessed.”