By Dan Savage, OrlandoMagic.com
Tobias Harris and Victor Oladipo have together dished out nearly 1,000 assists in their young NBA careers.
But on Thursday, the Orlando Magic duo may have handed out their most important one yet.
Harris and Oladipo along with Magic Community Ambassadors Bo Outlaw and Nick Anderson teamed up with military representatives from four different service branches to host a Hoops for Troops Commitment to Service project at the 164th ADA Brigade Headquarters.
Together, they packed more than 200 care packets that will benefit homeless students and families at local elementary schools.
“It was really special for us today to join with the service members and fill care packets full of essential items for children in need,” Harris explained. “To do something to give back and provide essential items can go along way.”
It was a humbling experience for both Orlando players as they worked hand-in-hand with military members to assemble care packages that were filled with toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, deodorant, socks and other items necessary for daily living.
“You can’t take anything for granted, because it can all be taken away in the blink of an eye,” said a reflective Oladipo as helped fill the bags.
The event tipped off the Magic’s participation in NBA Cares Hoops for Troops Week, which will culminate with the team’s annual Seats for Soldiers Night presented by Harris Corporation on Veterans Day, November 11 when Orlando hosts the Los Angeles Lakers.
Throughout the week, NBA teams, including the Magic, will work side-by-side with the military to participate in various service projects across the U.S.
It was an opportunity that Harris and Oladipo were determined to be a part of.
“Teaming up with the troops, who protect us every day, it’s just a blessing for Tobias and I to be able to come out here and do that,” Oladipo said. “There would be no hoops if it wasn’t for the troops.”
However, Oladipo and Harris weren’t the only ones excited about the event. The service members were overjoyed to take part in such an outstanding cause alongside two of Orlando’s rising stars.
“It just shows the commitment to the community and the willingness together to reach out to our community,” said Command Sergeant Major Williams Keefer of the Magic’s participation in the Hoops For Troops week.
For fans interested in providing their own assist, the NBA is continuing its Commitment to Service Pledge Tracker, which encourages individuals to share comments and photos that show how they serve their local communities using #HoopsForTroops.
After all, the Sixth Man can always play a major role.