The warehouse at Infant Crisis Services pulsed with activity. More than two hundred people operated in a machine-like rhythm within its walls. Some wore yellow t-shirts; some wore orange or blue. Some packed diapers while others labeled and boxed baby formula. As chaotic as the scene may have appeared to the casual onlooker, it was the most united act of kindness by the Thunder organization this season.
Thunder and OKC Blue players, coaches and staff were joined alongside the Thunder basketball operations and business office staff to spend the afternoon volunteering at the Infant Crisis Services for its fourth annual Thunder Cares Day of Service. Unlike its community events that happen throughout the year, Monday’s event included everyone who works for the Thunder in a full-time position.
“Community service is something that is really important to the Thunder organization,” said Christine Berney, Thunder Vice President of Community Relations. “This is the chance to really get out there and get some hands-on experience doing something as a company as we do all year round in smaller events … This is the chance to get everybody together in one place, which is a really special time for us to share the work that we’re doing.”
Infant Crisis Services is an emergency food pantry for babies and toddlers in need. They provide enough food, formula and diapers for a baby up to four times each year in times of crisis. Miki Farris, the executive director and co-founder of the organization addressed the staff before the event and was moved to tears by the generosity of the day.
“All of the goods that the [Thunder] is helping us with today, that makes it possible to serve all the needy babies and toddlers that come to our organization,” Farris said.
This year, Infant Crises Services has doubled every single month in terms of service and anticipates they will serve over 30,000 babies in the coming year. Last year alone, the organization gave away over 750,000 diapers. With the new addition of Baby Mobiles (appropriately named Thelma and Louise) that travel to counties surrounding Oklahoma City, Infant Crisis Services is helping babies in need all across the state.
“It made me cry because it means the world to us. We need the help, we need people’s hands, talents and treasure and all of the things that will make it possible to help these babies,” Farris said.
Thunder center Steven Adams picked up a generous stack of diapers in one hand and placed them in a clear bag before sending the bag down the assembly line. Across the room, nestled in the back corner of the warehouse was Mike Muscala and Abdel Nader, sporting bright yellow Thunder Cares T-shirts. They were huddled around a table listening intently to directions on what to do with the pile of baby clothes that just arrived at their station. On the neighboring table, Hamidou Diallo’s station had just completed the task of labeling and packing tubs of baby formula. Standing alongside each player were various Thunder staff members working toward the same goals.
“I think it’s something unique to the team and it shows how much the organization really cares about the community,” Thunder guard Chris Paul said as he stuffed clear bags full of brand-new diapers. “Everyone comes out and supports us on any given night with their families or whatever it may be, so for us to be here and do our part is meaningful and well-needed.”
Working hand-in-hand, all members of the Thunder organization helped hundreds of babies and toddlers in their community. Similar to the work they do every day whether in the business office, operations office or on the court, the giant contingent of Thunder personnel worked in perfect harmony for a common goal – filling the needs of infants at risk.