By Michael Kinney
OKLAHOMA CITY – Russell Westbrook walked into the City Rescue Mission last week to the screams of more more than 60 children. However, for the first time in a long time, the majority of the screams weren’t for him.
Westbrook walked in with Santa Claus and when the two parted, most of the kids surrounded Saint Nick.
The duo on hand in conjunction with Westbrook’s annual Christmas party for homeless who live at the City Rescue Mission in downtown Oklahoma City. This is the 5th year that the Russell Westbrook Why Not? Foundation has hosted a holiday party for Oklahoma City children in need.
The party has become a staple of the many charitable events Westbrook puts on every year.
“There is no better feeling than putting a smile on a kid’s face, especially those in need,” Westbrook said. “A lot of these kids won’t get to celebrate Christmas so the fact that I can come to the Mission and do this for them is unbelievable, I am truly blessed.”
The festivities included a hot meal, face painting and a bouncy castle. They also had, for the first time, armadillo races that drew the biggest and most animated crowds.
With the help of Santa and his brother Ray, Westbrook handed out gifts to all the of children in attendance. Their gift bags contained a new pair of shoes, backpacks and t-shirts, all from Jordan Brand.
“Just to see all family enjoy the holiday spirit is the most important part,” Westbrook said. “Especially during Christmas. That’s a great moment for kids, at no matter what age, to have something for Christmas is very exciting for them and exciting for me as well. It feels great. That’s the best feeling in the world to do something for somebody else, put joy in their life and give them something to look forward to.”
For those who also want to donate to the City Rescue Mission, it’s located at 800 W. California.
“It shows you how blessed you are and how you can use basketball or athletics to use your platform to be able to create chances for people across the world,” Westbrook said. “That’s something I’ve been trying to do since I’ve been in the league, to reach people, to use my voice and use what I do to be able to help people in any way that I can.”