Holiday Assist: Thunder serves meals at City Rescue Mission

When City Rescue Mission President Tom Jones announced at chapel the other day that the Thunder would be paying a visit to serve Thanksgiving dinner and shoot baskets, he said he’d never seen a group of people so excited.

“They have just been crazy with anticipation,” Jones said.

So when the Thunder players were brought into the cafeteria at the City Rescue Mission on Tuesday evening, the response from the families and children were overwhelming. The cheer was deafening. And everyone was eager to eat.

The City Rescue Mission in downtown Oklahoma City, a place where the homeless come for a meal, to live and to start over in life, served some 500 dinners on Tuesday’s Thanksgiving celebration.

The Thunder was happy to help.

“It’s so important that we do this,” Head Coach Scott Brooks said. “We don’t do it because we’re forced to do it – we do it because we want to do it. It’s a privilege and it’s an honor to be a part of the community and give back.”

Nenad Krstic, Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka, Nick Collison and assistant coach Mark Bryant manned the food line. Rookie Cole Aldrich sliced pumpkin pie. Thabo Sefolosha helped deliver meals. Byron Mullens made sure everyone got a beverage cup. Russell Westbrook posed with families next to a life-sized cardboard cutout of himself. And everyone else, players, coaches and basketball operations staff members, made sure families had enough to eat and drink.

When dinner was finished, everyone filed into the gym, where players shot hoops with children, signed autographs and posed for pictures along with Rumble. In one corner of the gym, Westbrook helped children decorate Christmas stockings.

The Thunder is committed to its community, and Tuesday was one way it could give back to those less fortunate.

“We were here last year and just to be here and make dinner them, it’s great,” Krstic said. “I know they have hard lives. For us, this makes us appreciate what we have and I really like having this opportunity to help people.”

Added Jones: “It is moments like these, when an organization like the Thunder takes up their time to interact with the families, especially the kids, that I see a sparkle in their eyes like nothing else.”

The dinner is part of the Thunder's 2010 Holiday Assist, presented by COX.

Contact Chris Silva