Thunder Responds to Holiday Hunger With Thanksgiving Food Drive

By Jimmy Do |

Watching a mother’s face perk up as he loaded her cart with frozen turkey along with a bag of the usual Thanksgiving fixings including veggies and stuffing, Patrick Patterson extended his arm for a send-off side hug.

There was Raymond Felton holding court nearby matching smile for smile as he latched bag handles from one hand to another.

Before Tuesday, the families in line at the Urban League of Greater Oklahoma City gripped with the reality of missing out on a Thanksgiving feast with Thursday around the corner.

That all changed when the Thunder partnered with Homeland to deliver 400 Thanksgiving dinners as the team’s traditional 10th Holiday Assist campaign marched on thanks to Cox Communications.

“Today, we want to make sure that as families as we can have a nice Thanksgiving Dinner,” said Brian Haaroaja, Homeland vice president of merchandising & marketing. “We’re able to help these families not stress about Thanksgiving and just enjoy it with their families.”

Felton and Patterson flanked by Rumble the Bison, Thunder Girls, Storm Chasers and broadcasters sparked the effort with deliveries to residents at Mt. Olive Senior Cottages before catching up with the families at Urban League.

“We have many families that are low to middle incomes that really need help during this holiday season,” said Valerie Thompson, president & CEO of Urban League of OKC. “Not only will they have a great Thanksgiving meal, but they may have several meals from this.”

Concurring with Thompson, Patterson reiterated the impact of the food drive with his neighbors in need during this time of year.

“Who knows if they would have food at all. To have us come alongside to help give back means a lot for me,” said Patterson. “It puts a smile on my face knowing that I’m doing something good and that I’m helping out.”

Last year, Oklahoma ranked 10th as one of the more food insecure states in the country with the issue plaguing 656,000 Oklahomans everyday, which was ”enough people to fill Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City more than 36 times.”

While dishing out turkey and pecan pies was the purpose, seeing the relief on the people’s faces as they pick up their dinners was the reward for Felton.

“This warms my heart and I love to do this—being able to give a full meal for their family,” said Felton. “The happiness and smiles as you see them walking out the doorway meant more to me.”

As Cecil Lawrence worked through the line making stops at the designated pickup tables for food items, he shook hands with Felton and Patterson along the way in gratitude.

“It made my plans better. It’s just a great deal,” said Lawrence. “Family, being together, reflecting on what we’ve been through and how we made through it, this is what it’s all about."

This is why we play. Patterson: "There’s a lot of less fortunate people out here in this world especially Oklahoma. Just doing whatever it takes whether it’s saying hello, having a friendly face or giving back." Photo by Zach Beeker | OKC Thunder

Ray with the assist. Felton: "It's all about family. It's all about togetherness." Photo by Zach Beeker | OKC Thunder

High-fives all around. Photo by Zach Beeker | OKC Thunder

Watch: Thunder Serves Up Thanksgiving Dinner


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