We love tinsel and trappings as much as the next Elf on the Shelf devotees, but here at A Plus, we believe that true wintertime magic comes in the form of connection and human kindness. Over the next month, come back and join us in raising a glass to those who give — because what's December without a little holiday spirit?
The Oklahoma City Thunder basketball team did something special for their fans off the court this week, in the spirit of the holiday season. On Monday, members of the team joined local families for their 10th annual Holiday Assist event with Sunbeam Family Services' Grandparents Raising Grandchildren program.
Thunder players, including Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony, as well as the Thunder Girls and mascot Rumble the Bison, took kids holiday shopping at Target. One girl, named Heaven, was particularly excited (and emotional) to learn that Westbrook would be her shopping buddy, as a Twitter video shows her breaking down in tears when he emerged from the curtains to give her a hug.
Westbook was named MVP at this year's inaugural NBA Awards. In his speech, he thanked his parents for their support and sacrifice, so it's safe to that he, like many of his teammates, recognizes the impact of giving back.
"I wish somebody would have taken me to Target," Anthony told NBA.com, sharing, "The ones I didn't get nothing, that's my favorite, Christmas. I never wanted to have that feeling again. I want to give back to these kids. I know what that feeling is like so I never want kids to have that feeling if I have anything to do with it."
Raymond Felton, meanwhile, shared that he wanted the kids to "have fun and enjoy themselves," adding, "I think it's something that every team around the league should do."
And it wasn't just the kids who got to go shopping. Felton surprised one woman by revealing he had covered all of the kids' purchases (a whole cart full of toys, and a Spider-Man DVD) and was giving her gift cards to spend on "whatever else you need." She responded with a hug and a string of thank-yous.
According to NBA.com, a Thunder girl named Stephanie also helped a man named Harold, who hadn't shopped for himself in five years, pick out everything from a crock pot to clothing. Another Thunder Girl, named Anna, shared that it was "eye-opening and life-changing" to help two grandmothers, Pauline and Terese, shop for themselves.
"The grandparents are the ones who need the help, who need the support. I don't think they get a lot of credit for what they do," Anthony said. "For us to be able to come out here for a couple hours and be able to take some of that pressure off of them and show them that we appreciate what they do, it makes it easy and makes it fun."
(H/T: Yahoo! Sports)