Entire Thunder Family Assists Food Bank

Every now and then, it’s nice to just have a family day.

 

On Thursday that’s exactly what the entire Thunder organization did, the business staff, basketball staff,  coaches and players all came together to assist the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma. Over the past five years, Thunder players have helped create an incredible bond with the Oklahoma City community. Thunder guard Derek Fisher said it is clear from events like today’s that the whole organization has a special connection to its city and state.

“I think that’s what this organization stands for,” Fisher said. “It’s what they try to represent on a daily basis… I’m not surprised having come here today and to see not just the basketball team, but the entire team, the Thunder family, lending support and spending time in the community. That’s what being here is about.”

Along with the help of Kids Café volunteers from the Boys’ and Girls’ Club of Oklahoma City, everyone in the Thunder family had the chance to bag food for a backpack program that will help feed over thousands kids. By packing up 14,740 pounds of food in the morning and afternoon on Thursday, the Thunder organization created enough packages for backpacks containing more than 12,000 meals. The children, players and staffers combined came into the food bank and were able to leave with a rewarding feeling that they made an impact on the lives of those in need.

A. Jaye Johnson, the Unit Director of the Boys’ and Girls’ Club in Oklahoma City, was on hand with some of his kids, who regularly volunteer at the Food Bank. It was a special scene as the Thunder players, coaches and staffers got to work side-by-side with these young kids who took the time to give back.

“(The Food Bank) is a great organization and we are very proud to be a part of that,” Johnson said. “I see what it does every day. It helps us feed our kids a hot meal every day after school and three meals during the summer.”

It was inspiring to see the young kids happily bagging food to help others in need, and to stand back and view the whole variety of people in the room was incredible. There were 6-foot-10 players mingling with kids and coaches joking while working alongside Thunder staff to create a melting pot of personalities all working together for a common goal.

That aspect of the day was exciting, but the event was also poignant, as players like Reggie Jackson took a step back to think about how the work on Thursday can help kids who are growing up in tough environments.

“Probably for a lot of people in NBA, a lot of people on this team, they probably remember nights when they went hungry,” Jackson said when asked about being to help hungry children. “It’s just a good cause giving back to the community, especially trying to make sure everybody is fed and everybody has their nutrients.”

Some of those kids in attendance and the players got to connect beyond just packaging food together. In fact, a youngster named Areon Bell had the chance to try his hand at broadcast journalism for the very first time by taking the microphone from thunder.nba.com’s Lesley McCaslin to interview Kevin Durant. Moments like those brought a smile to Johnson’s face, simply to see the impact the Thunder has on Oklahoma City youths.

“The Thunder has been an absolutely awesome organization since they’ve come to Oklahoma City,” Johnson said. “It’s obvious that it’s working here in our city and we’re proud to have the Thunder in Oklahoma City.”

As Thunder players like Westbrook have said at recent community events, however, the Thunder feels that its community makes the same type of indelible impact on the team as the organization tries to make in Oklahoma City. That dual relationship between the people in Oklahoma and the entire Thunder family is one that exudes mutual support and respect. In that sense, all of Oklahoma is a part of the Thunder family, too.

“This community is unlike any other,” Fisher said. “I think the relationship between the Thunder and Oklahoma City and central Oklahoma is unique and special. It’s something we feel when we’re on the court. For us to lend our support when we’re off the court, it’s a fun thing to do.”