Magic Players Markelle Fultz, Wendell Carter Jr. and Chuma Okeke Sponsor “Drive By Blessing” Event

Fultz and members of the Magic supply families with turkeys and pantry items ahead of the holidays
Markelle Fultz
by Dan Savage

Since Markelle Fultz was a child, he has actively participated in charitable efforts, especially around the holidays.

So, it was only fitting that as he drove up to the Drive By Blessing event, he was flooded with holiday memories and felt grateful that he's been granted the opportunity to give back to others.

Fultz, along with his mother Ebony, members of the Magic, including community ambassador Bo Outlaw, Eatonville Mayor Eddie Cole, and the Town Council of Eatonville were on hand to supply 300 turkeys, pantry items and produce to seniors and families in the community on Wednesday in advance of the Thanksgiving holiday. Magic players Wendell Carter Jr. and Chuma Okeke assisted Fultz in sponsoring the event along with the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida and Hostdime.

“It’s amazing,” said Fultz. “This is something that my family has been doing for a long time. Since I’ve been growing up, it’s always been about giving back and trying to help others. So, being able to do this right now, especially in Orlando, especially after everything that’s gone on with COVID and everything like that, it’s truly a blessing to be able to touch others.”

It’s just the first event of the holiday season for Fultz, who is also sponsoring his annual “Fultzgiving” event in the District of Columbia. On Nov. 22, he will supply 200 turkeys, pantry items and produce for families and seniors in the community at the Emery Heights Community Center.

“He’s been doing it since he was little, so at this juncture in his life, it’s like second nature to him,” said Fultz’s mother Ebony. “It’s engrained in him from birth.”

It’s no surprise then that Fultz has been a perfect fit with the Magic organization since his arrival in a trade-deadline deal back in Feb. 2019. Like Fultz, the Magic since their inception have been extremely active in the community, especially around the holiday season.

This year, the organization has multiple events centered around the Thanksgiving holiday. Magic players Jalen Suggs, Franz Wagner and Moe Wagner, along with Amway Corporation and members of the Magic staff will distribute 450 Thanksgiving meals to underserved families in the Central Florida area on Nov. 23.

Then, as part of the Magic’s annual tradition, head coach Jamahl Mosley will sponsor the team's annual Thanksgiving breakfast. More than 25 team volunteers including families and staff, Magic CEO Alex Martins, President of Basketball Operations Jeff Weltman, Community Ambassadors Nick Anderson and Bo Outlaw, and the Magic entertainment teams will serve a Thanksgiving breakfast to the nearly 400 residents at the Coalition for the Homeless and the more than 100 unsheltered homeless individuals from the community. This marks the 29th year the Magic have hosted the breakfast.

“It’s huge. It’s something that, again, when you have the opportunity to reach others and help others, it’s always great when you’re able to do so,” Fultz said of the importance of community in the Magic organization. “I think that’s a big thing within this organization. They love giving back to the community, giving back to help people, and I just want to help in any way I can. I think (this event) is one way that I can help and put my touch on it.”

These events come on the heels of the DeVos family’s new giving pledge called "30 grants for 30 years." That effort will contribute a total of $3 million to 30 area nonprofit organizations over the next 18 months and seeks to invest in people and projects impacting youth, essential needs for families, and community enrichment across Central Florida.

On an annual basis, the Magic give more than $2 million to the local community by way of sponsorships of events, donated tickets, autographed merchandise and grants. Magic community relations programs impact an estimated 100,000 kids each year, while a Magic staff-wide initiative provides more than 7,000 volunteer hours annually. In addition, the Orlando Magic Youth Foundation, which serves at-risk youth, has distributed more than $26 million to local nonprofit community organizations over the last 31 years.

“Being able to make a difference in so many people’s lives, it’s a blessing,” said Fultz.

That’s certainly a vision that is engrained in Fultz as well as throughout the Magic.

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