Spirit Of Giving

Jeremy Lin, Patrick Patterson and Kelvin Sampson reach out to Houston community in time for Thanksgiving
by Jason Friedman
Rockets.com Writer/Reporter

HOUSTON - Holiday preparations typically depend upon the nature of one’s role as either a guest or host of the family feast. For some, the extent of those duties is limited to simply dodging a relative's talent for planting lipstick-stained kisses, or maneuvering away from the hot seat next to an interrogating cousin – both of which are commendable feats.

In contrast, the host tends to have a more demanding task because no amount of preparation performed in advance seems to prevent the inevitable trip back to the grocery store on the day of Thanksgiving. For Kids’ Meals of Houston, the de facto host for over a thousand underserved families, the unanticipated demands for the metaphorical trip back to the grocery store isn’t faced temporarily, or seasonally; instead, the dilemma is ongoing as a feast for the growing number of families must be prepared on a daily basis.

On Tuesday evening, Jeremy Lin and Rockets acting head coach Kelvin Sampson joined the efforts of Kids’ Meals, a dedicated community partner of the Rockets organization, after concerning shortages prompted a collaboration between the Jeremy Lin Foundation and the Houston Rockets.

Kids’ Meals Executive Director, Ruth Burrell, has seen the initial 1,200 families increase to 1,700 since her guidance in 2010. The program operates daily, year-round, Monday through Friday, delivering meals to homes of families with pre-school aged children, at no cost.

 “The Rockets had already given the Kids’ Meals team three big vans packed to the top with groceries, and the amount the organization provided was so much that they rented a U-Haul filling that up, too, but unfortunately, that only fed 1,200 families,” Burrell said.

More than one hundred families didn’t make this initial cut for the meals provided despite generous efforts, and they prepared to walk away empty-handed and, more importantly, empty stomachs.

“The families who were on the waiting list for groceries walked up to empty vans,” said Burrell. “They would leave hungry because they were considered the overflow ... Then all of a sudden, we had this blessing from Jeremy Lin.”

Families showed much appreciation as Lin and Sampson handed large bags filled with Thanksgiving provisions made possible through the Jeremy Lin Foundation. Sentiments of gratitude were mutual as Lin showed consistent enthusiasm for photos with fans, revealing that he was as much of a fan of the community as they were of his.

“There are a lot of things people take for granted every day and the Foundation tries to encourage a grateful attitude during Thanksgiving and after, which is just as important,” Lin said.

During the same time on Tuesday, Houston Rockets forward Patrick Patterson visited 60 families residing at Royal Palms Apartments, which suffered devastating property damages in January forcing residents to relocate.

The Rockets organization, Jeremy Lin Foundation, and Kids Meals of Houston presented a feast with all the trimmings as gifts for the holiday, but the families they had the pleasure of serving offered a far more valuable gift: A reminder that Thanksgiving is beyond what’s on the table, but rather who’s at the table with you.