ORLANDO - Some traditions never get old.
The Orlando Magic serving breakfast to the homeless on Thanksgiving morning is without a doubt one of them.
This year marked the 30th time the Magic have done that at the Coalition for the Homeless.
Joined by DeVos family members, Magic CEO Alex Martins, Community Ambassador Bo Outlaw, players Admiral Schofield and Caleb Houstan, and other Magic volunteers, Magic Head Coach Jamahl Mosley sponsored and paid for the breakfast. Around 400 Coalition for the Homeless residents, as well as more than 100 unsheltered homeless individuals in the community, were served a meal.
“I think it’s so amazing,” Mosley said. “The fact that we can give back is such a blessing. To be able to give back to the Coalition for the Homeless, it’s what it’s supposed to be about…I think (with) the blessings that we have, we have to make sure we give back to those that are in need, to be able to serve others, to be able to care for others, (and) to do more with what you have for those that aren’t fortunate to have some of the things that we do.”
All year, but especially during the holidays, the Magic go above and beyond to give back to their community. Ever since the late Rich DeVos bought the team in 1991, they’ve been on a mission to help as many people as possible get through their tougher times.
In many ways, the DeVos family’s philanthropic nature has become magnetic throughout the region. Many organizations partner with them and the team as a whole to bolster the community.
“Rich DeVos taught us all a lot about giving back to our community and making sure that we help those who are less fortunate in Central Florida,” Martins said. “This event did mean a lot to him and we carry that on in his legacy and in his memory and everything that we do in terms of our community outreach. We always do it with him in mind, and we know that he taught us how to be great citizens here in Central Florida.”
Now in his second year with the Magic, Schofield learned at an early age the impact altruism makes. As soon as he heard about the Magic’s Thanksgiving tradition, he signed up to volunteer. After telling his mother and girlfriend about his Thanksgiving morning plans, they chose to come and help out as well.
“It really showed me the importance of giving back – not for accolades or notoriety, but I think it’s more so for the impact,” the 25-year-old Chicago-raised forward said. “Even when people would give to me on my path of getting to the NBA or give to me and feed into me educationally wise for me to advance, and be able to get to college, and be able to have opportunities that I didn’t have, it really helped me go a long way. It really impacted my life. Once I was able to give back to those people, I wanted to (give back) – even in my community to people that didn’t make it to the NBA or go to college and stuff like that.
The biggest thing here is we are all human beings. Not everyone can afford to get food. Not everyone can afford to put on a big meal. I think the biggest thing is we are giving them a safe place, where they can come and not worry about anything and just really enjoy their family.”
Thursday’s breakfast was one of a few Thanksgiving-related community events the Magic took part in this year. Last week, Wendell Carter Jr., Mosley, Outlaw, Florida Blue, and Magic staff members distributed 350 Thanksgiving meals to underserved families in the Central Florida area.
This past Monday, Markelle Fultz sponsored his Fultzgiving turkey dinner distribution event for the Eatonville community. More than 400 Thanksgiving meals were provided to underserved families at the Denton Johnson Center. It was the third time Fultz has held this event.
Fultz was joined by his mother Ebony, Outlaw, and many other volunteers. Community partners Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, St. Lawrence, Ward Chapel, Mt. Tabor, and New Bethel joined the Magic in providing food donations and assisting with the event.
“I think it’s huge – just to let them see that we are all the same,” Fultz said. “We are all human. We all go through issues. We all go through problems. And just letting them know they have somebody that believes in them and (are) always going to be reaching out to the community.”
Coalition for the Homeless CEO Allison Krall admires the Magic for all their philanthropic contributions. Even though the Magic keep returning year after year on Thanksgiving, she doesn’t take that for granted. It warms her heart knowing such a big organization like the Magic care as much as they do.
“Any time you have a sports organization at the caliber and level that the Magic are and they are willing to give back to the community, it says a lot about the ownership of the organization,” she said. “It says a lot about the DeVos family, coach Mosley, and the entire administrative team – that they are willing to invest in the community that they work in…(We are) blessed that they choose our organization to be a part of who they give back to. I think it’s amazing.”
In addition to being served a meal, guests were able to participate in activities in the Coalition for the Homeless’ courtyard, including an inflatable basketball station, cornhole, face painting, and balloon art.