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Chuma Okeke, Pepsi Surprise Boys & Girls Club Youth With Gifts; E’Twaun Moore Takes Kids on Holiday Shopping Spree

Josh Cohen
Digital News Manager

ORLANDO - The Orlando Magic and Pepsi share nearly identical marketing brand campaigns. The Magic’s is ‘Magic Together’ and Pepsi’s is ‘Pepsi Stronger Together.’

Together, which is obviously the common word in both slogans, they lift the community up through philanthropy.

That was the theme on Thursday, Dec. 16 at Eatonville’s Joe R. Lee Boys & Girls Club where the Magic, led by team forward Chuma Okeke, and Pepsi delivered a big holiday boost to 100 kids of the after-school program.

Each child received $100 gift cards, and the Magic and Pepsi bought new electronic equipment, including a flat screen television and laptop computers, for the facility’s teen lounge as part of the $10,000 donation. Papa John’s, meanwhile, provided pizza for the kids.

As you probably would expect, especially with a player from their favorite team in the house, the reactions from the kids were priceless.

“Any time I’m able to make somebody’s day, a kid’s day, it’s always going to make me feel good inside,” Okeke said. “In a world where sometimes it seems like there’s no hope in the world, but just little stuff like this it makes kids just keep pushing. You never know what direction kids are going down these days.”

As the old adage goes, there’s strength in numbers. The more organizations there are in a region willing to work together to build a stronger community, the more likely it is that will happen.

Pepsi is one of the Magic’s “Champions of the Community” partners. The others are AdventHealth, L3Harris, RP Funding, Walt Disney World, IOA and Florida Blue. All encompass what it truly means to invest in their community by supporting programming that makes a direct impact on others.

It’s been especially meaningful to give back during the pandemic, knowing so many children and families need a boost.

“The Magic have been phenomenal partners of Pepsi for many years,” said Floyd Ferjuste, vice president of sales at Pepsi. “As you think about the pandemic and what people have gone through the last couple years, I think likeminded businesses and organizations such as the Magic and PepsiCo wanted to really think about how we give back to the community, and it’s through the Pepsi Stronger Together and Magic Together platform. Really, it’s been a natural way to partner.”

The Magic and Pepsi have a long running history of teaming up during the holiday season. This was the 13th holiday gift-giving event they’ve organized for kids of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida, which provides a safe and caring experience for children between the ages of 6 and 18 from the region’s most disadvantaged neighborhoods. At each of the 36 clubs across six counties, children become more confident, stay out of trouble, and plan for their futures.

“We have core values with our organization and one is called BE GREAT,” said Shadrick Alexander, service director at the Boys & Girls Clubs Joe R. Lee branch. “I think that’s what it is with the Orlando Magic, to provide opportunities – and this opportunity every year for the past 13 years…To be able to provide those kids with a joyous Christmas because everything they’ve been going through for the past two years with the pandemic, they always just seem down because they weren’t going to school and then the club was closed for so long because of the pandemic. To open up and then bring that joy and excitement of the club atmosphere but also the holidays will put a big, huge smile on a kid’s face. That continuous partnership with the Orlando Magic and Pepsi, it really has helped our organization really just provide resources to our families.”

Across town, Magic guard E’Twaun Moore was also spreading holiday cheer. The 6-foot-3, 11-year NBA veteran hosted close to 70 children from the J.R. Smith Center for a holiday shopping spree at a Target in Orlando. Each kid was supplied with a $100 gift card, the cost of which was split by Moore and his teammate Cole Anthony.

“It’s very neat. First of all, it’s motivating for me,” said Moore. “I feel like a big kid. It’s happy and fun time for me and my family also. That’s where it started, with my family and my foundation (the E'Twaun Moore foundation). Have to give Cole Anthony big props (also).”

Moore, who’s in his second stint with the Magic, credited the DeVos family for setting the tone early in his career about giving back to the community.

“(Giving back) is very big. I played in Orlando my second and third year in the NBA and I’m on year eleven now,” said Moore. “I was definitely inspired by the DeVos family. I saw how much they give back and how much they’re involved in the community and how important it is to them. I definitely took notice and it’s something that’s definitely needed in this world.”

On Dec. 22, 67 Head Start program kids ages 3 to 5 will be receiving gift cards purchased by Magic Head Coach Jamahl Mosley and guard Markelle Fultz. The very next night at Amway Center during their game against the New Orleans Pelicans, the Magic will partner with Habitat for Humanity to shower a local family of four with a BIG holiday surprise, including gifts and other items the family needs.