Westbrook Hosts Christmas Party for Local Youth

Russell Westbrook called a young girl’s name over the microphone, and she responded by doing a full cartwheel on her way to receive her Christmas present.

At the gymnasium of All Soul’s Episcopal Church in Oklahoma City, Russell Westbrook hosted his WHY NOT? Foundation’s first annual Christmas party in concert with Citizens Caring for Children (CCC). CCC is an organization that assists children who are in foster care and 80 of those kids were present for the party, which featured a gift ceremony and Westbrook playing basketball with the children. It was clear that Westbrook wanted to brighten the days of some children who might have a difficult holiday season ahead of them.

“I think it’s very important to be able to give a kid something for Christmas who isn’t looking for something and don’t even know if they might have a Christmas,” Westbrook said. “It’s important for people like myself and people in my position to be able to come back and give back.”

One by one, Westbrook called the children to the front to receive their Christmas gift and to get a hug or handshake. He gave every kid a pair of Jordan basketball shoes in their size, each with a unique color scheme and design, in addition to a backpack and a t-shirt. For children going through a very rough time, those presents seemed to mean the world, as Citizens Caring for Children’s Executive Director, Amy Mitchell, explained.

“We’re making a lot of Christmas dreams come true,” Mitchell said. “These kids come from homes that they’ve been removed from and they just don’t have a lot of things of their own during the holidays.”

“Kids before have told me that they don’t think Santa will find them because they move so much when they’re in foster care, so Christmas can be a tough time,” Mitchell continued. “But we hope that through events like this we can help them be excited and happy for a moment, and a kid again for a day.”

More than simply receiving a gift, the fact that Westbrook would take the time during the midst of the NBA season to spend his afternoon with them was the biggest treat for the children. The kids were ecstatic to meet the Thunder point guard, take a few jumpers with him and get to know one another, and it was evident on every face that walked to the front to receive their gift.

“These kids are full of excitement.” Westbrook said. “It’s a great feeling and it lifts me up… Citizens Caring for Children, it’s a foundation that helps foster kids. They are kids in the program that may wake up and not think they’ll have a Christmas or get any gifts. I think it’s important that every child gets a gift.”

There were plenty of exciting things going on at the party, with Santa, pizza and presents involved, but Westbrook stole the show as he stepped to the microphone and stole the show. He joked with the kids and laughed with them as they showed their gratitude for the Jordan sneakers, then visited with them as they enjoyed their Christmas party. During the time of year when showing appreciation for one another is of the utmost importance, the kids in the Citizens Caring for Children program felt the holiday cheer from Westbrook.

“When they see him (Westbrook), their faces just light up and you can tell you just made their year,” Mitchell said. “They are super shocked that he is here… We have Santa here today, I don’t think they even noticed Santa. They just saw Russell.”