Ross and Pepsi Take Youth on Holiday Shopping Spree

by Josh Cohen

ORLANDO – When Terrence Ross, now in his eighth NBA season, is on his A-game, the Orlando Magic are tough to beat. It’s been proven time and time again that when the 6-foot-6 swingman is hitting his perimeter shots, playing pesky defense and bringing that energy and hustle off the bench, the Magic flourish.

What he excels at on the basketball court isn’t the only thing he’s become known for since joining the Magic following a trade from the Toronto Raptors nearly three years ago, however.

Ross, who re-signed with Orlando this past summer when he was a free agent, has become known throughout Central Florida for lifting children’s spirits and helping them reach their full potential.

Being a positive influence on children is something Ross is very passionate about. He’s incredibly grateful every time he gets to brighten up the lives of young people, which is exactly what he did on Thursday, Dec. 12. With some help from Pepsi, Ross made this holiday season extra special for 75 kids from Parramore’s New Image Youth Center.

Each child, courtesy of Ross and Pepsi, received a $200 Walmart gift card. What made the occasion even more memorable for the kids was that Ross and Pepsi volunteers accompanied them on a shopping spree. On top of that, Pepsi treated the children to a pizza party.

“It’s the Christmas season so it’s just the spirit of giving back (and) having fun with the kids,” Ross said. “It’s a great feeling. It’s always good to reach out. Couldn't be happier."

“Growing up we always looked up to the sports players and athletes from our town. It was always a special thing when they came and spent time with me. So, when I got here (to Orlando) that was what I knew I wanted to do,” the father of two added.

This wasn’t the first time the 28-year-old has assisted children from the New Image Youth Center. He took a group of the kids on a holiday shopping spree last year as well and has participated in summer activities with them.

Established by Dr. Shanta Barton-Stubbs in 2004 when she was just 21 years old, the New Image Youth Center features a range of programs focused on several key areas, including academic support, social development, health and wellness, and crisis intervention. Ecstatic every time the Magic and their players lend a helping hand, Barton-Stubbs has seen first-hand the difference it makes on children when their sports heroes show them how much they care about their well-being.

“It’s a Christmas miracle,” she said. “You’re always just hoping for the best Christmas. You never know who is going to step up or if anyone will. And then all of a sudden you get a call from the Orlando Magic and it’s our favorite guy, Mr. T-Ross, once again coming to give us Christmas bliss.”

Thursday’s shopping spree is one of several community outreach events that the Magic and their players are participating in this holiday season. The next one will happen on Friday when point guard D.J. Augustin will surprise 20 underprivileged youth from the Tupperware Brands Branch of the Boys & Girls Clubs with gifts, including FILA apparel and tickets to stay for the Magic's game against the Houston Rockets.

The Magic will host another holiday shopping spree at a different Walmart on Sunday, Dec. 22. One hundred children from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida will receive $100 Walmart gift cards courtesy of Pepsi. Magic players and other volunteers from the Magic and Pepsi will take the kids shopping.

“Community outreach is extremely important to both organizations. That’s what makes it really special and quite fun and actually pretty easy to do when you have organizations that are on the same page here,” said Derek Lewis, the President of PepsiCo’s South Division. “We’ve put this framework in place for years. This is an annual event. It’s a really exciting time. The support we receive from the Magic is tremendous.”

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