By Josh Cohen, OrlandoMagic.com
ORLANDO — One thing we’ve definitely learned about the Magic this season is that teamwork and collaboration are important to their development. So, it was only fitting for a few of the Magic’s players to team up with local children to help them pick out holiday gifts.
On Thursday, Dec. 17, Evan Fournier, Channing Frye, Jason Smith and other volunteers from the Magic and PepsiCo. took 100 kids from the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Florida (BGCCF) on a holiday shopping spree at a local Walmart. Each child received $100 to spend and PepsiCo. also donated $2,500 to the BGCCF to help support its programs.
“The kids always love to have a little interaction with us and at heart I’m a kid so I love to go shopping with them,” Smith said. “The things I share with them are I’ve been in their shoes, you could do anything to accomplish your dreams, just keep on working hard in school. Be happy, be merry and have fun in school.”
While assisting in the community is special no matter what time of year it is, there is something special about it during the holiday season.
“It is Christmas time and I have kids of my own and I couldn’t imagine not being able to give them something so now we have this opportunity to show the community how much we appreciate them,” Frye said.
All of the children had a blast touring the aisles with the three Magic players along with Community Ambassadors Nick Anderson and Bo Outlaw and often sought their advice on which items to place in the shopping cart. While Frye seemed to spend much of his time with his new friends in the electronics department, Fournier and Smith were assessing some of the cool new toys on the market.
It certainly brought back some favorite holiday memories from their own childhoods.
“Not even close, 1989, got my first Nintendo and played regular Super Mario for I think 24 hours straight,” Frye recalled. “It was huge at the time.”
“Playstation 2 in 2000!” Fournier exclaimed.
The Magic have plenty more on the docket as it relates to assisting children and families this holiday season.
They are hosting the Angel Tree Adoption Program, which helps benefit children from the Hope CommUnity Center. Staff will select a family or families from the Angel Tree and purchase items from their wish list and the Magic will deliver these gifts to the children affiliated with the organization.
The Magic will be making wishes come true for children suffering from life threatening medical conditions. The children selected will attend upcoming Magic games and be treated to an amazing all-access experience at Amway Center. They will meet the players and be surprised with gifts on the court.
For the seventh consecutive year, the Magic will surprise a local family with ‘The Big Give,’ an all-inclusive game experience. The family chosen will get a limo ride to Amway Center, dinner and courtside seats. They also will be showered with gifts at halftime.
“The Magic is such a class organization,” President and CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida Gary Cain said. “The more that we do to help children who are in difficult circumstances when they are young, the more we can prevent problems downstream.”