ORLANDO - If you happened to be shopping at the Walmart on Princeton Street in Orlando early Tuesday evening, you may have noticed there was some extra holiday spirit around the store.
You weren’t mistaken, as the Magic’s Aaron Gordon, Jonathon Simmons and Khem Birch were there spreading holiday cheer.
As part of the fun, 100 children from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida (BGCCF) were each given $100 Walmart gift cards, courtesy of Pepsi, before the three Magic players helped take them on a holiday shopping spree.
“Some of these kids can’t get everything that they want for Christmas so we come here with a little donation from Pepsi helping them get one or two things they might not be able to get otherwise,” Gordon said. “I remember when I was a kid and I wanted toys and sometimes we couldn’t get the toys that we couldn’t afford, so to come here and be able to shop with these kids and see how excited they are, it’s special.”
It means a lot to Simmons, a father and someone who greatly values family time, to help these children connect with their own families. When they exchange gifts with loved ones, the kids will certainly have some memorable stories to share about who they were with when they picked out the presents.
“It’s very special,” he said. “It is very meaningful. I’m actually looking forward to seeing my family for Christmas as well."
It also will help inspire and motivate them, which BGCCF President and CEO Gary Gain is incredibly delighted by.
“It really is about the community wrapping their arms around children, wanting them to be successful,” he said. “What we do is provide them a place to be safe, help them with the academics, make sure they understand how they should be conducting themselves. My wife and I both grew up without much, so I know how good it feels when people help you out when you don’t have much.”
It helps too that organizations like the Magic and Pepsi share the same core principles in the community. Both aspire to bolster children and help them reach their potential.
“It’s massive and it’s massive for not only our organization but also with our partnership with the Magic and the local community,” said Rich Loomis, Unit Sales Manager at the Orlando Facility for Pepsi Beverages Company. “We are very proud of the partnership with the team and with what this event means to the local community as we help unprivileged kids in the area.”