By Michael Kinney
During the Covid-19 pandemic, one of the activities that were curtailed or cut out altogether was the community activities involving the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The franchise seems to be back on course this season with the return of the annual Holiday Assist. This year marks the 15th year the event has been held.
According to Thunder officials, this year’s Holiday Assist is the largest slate of holiday-giving events in Thunder history and includes more than two dozen community engagements to brighten the spirits of hundreds of Oklahomans during the holidays.
One of the events that the Thunder have looked forward to the most in the past is the annual shopping spree with kids from around Oklahoma.
In the past, the shopping trip was run in conjunction with the Sunbeam Family Services Grandparents Raising Grandchildren program. The grandparents were often struggling to provide any type of Christmas for their grandkids and the shopping spree often brought them to tears.
This season the franchise teamed up with Millwood High School and surprised a group of 17 student/athletes with a shopping trip to a local box store.
“This is a big deal for them, and it gives them opportunities to maybe choose things that they’d never be able to choose,” said Millwood Superintendent Dr. Cecilia Robinson-Woods. “It also gives them an opportunity to exercise those leadership skills – having conversations with adults and being around a lot of cameras. It just gives them an opportunity to shine.”
Each of the players were paired up with a student and took them around the store to buy holiday gifts of sporting goods and athletic wear. At the end of the afternoon, each student was gifted with a gift card for future shopping.
“More than the gifts and the clothes and shoes and stuff, I think it’s just being able to spend time with people who are in the community,” said Aaron Wiggins. “I know if it was me as a kid, it’d be the day of my life. It’s huge just seeing the joyous spirit of it all.”
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