ORLANDO - Even though nearly 3,000 miles separate Orlando and Oakland, Magic forward Aaron Gordon made sure families from both cities will have an extra special Thanksgiving feast this year.
Born and raised in Northern California and currently a rising NBA star in Central Florida, Gordon distributed holiday meals to close to 900 families in both locations combined this week.
The first charitable act occurred from afar, when he arranged for 400 Oakland-based families to receive turkey and all the trimmings.
On Wednesday, Gordon was at the Englewood Neighborhood Center in Orlando, where the 23-year-old joined volunteers from Amway Corporation and the Magic in handing out turkey, stuffing, green beans, gravy, pie and other items for the dinner table to 475 underserved families. The generosity from Gordon, Amway and the Magic made this possible.
Family has always been extremely important to Gordon, who was delighted to see all the smiles on the faces of everyone who walked through the line. In his eyes, Thanksgiving is a day for families to stay connected and he’s proud to be in a position where he can help make that happen.
“I’m so blessed that I’ve been placed on a platform and given the resources to help out families that might not have full stomachs when they go to sleep,” Gordon said. “It means a lot to me, and I know it means a lot to my parents as well and how they raised me. I’m just super excited to be here.”
“I love giving back, it’s what I’ve wanted to do my whole life,” he added.
Another young Magic player who has gone above and beyond in the community since arriving in Orlando is Jonathan Isaac, who spent time on Monday at J.U.M.P. Ministries Global Church serving an early Thanksgiving meal that he bought to approximately 85 people in need.
Now in his fifth season with the Magic, Gordon is grateful to be around others in the organization who care just as much as he does about strengthening people’s lives. Passed down to him early on from his own family, the 6-foot-9, 220-pounder has seen first-hand the difference it makes when an entire team aspires to build a better community.
“It’s important,” he said. “The community gives back so much to us and supporting us as we play on the court, so off the court we have to do the same thing. It has to be reciprocated.”
Being able to partner with other organizations, like Amway, that have the same goals as the Magic bolsters the impact that each of the team’s outreach programs have on the community. Amway Community Ambassador Kelly Norton agrees, accentuating the significance of having multiple organizations unite to accomplish that same objective.
“It shows how caring these organizations are and how many people are out in the community to make sure these initiatives are carried through,” she said.