Valentine’s Day had a brand new meaning, thanks to the 13th Annual NBA Cares All-Star Day of Service. In partnership with Nike, SAP, State Farm, and City Year, more than 400 volunteers from both Chicago, as well as out of town had the opportunity to volunteer alongside some of their favorite NBA and WNBA players from past and present at the Greater Chicago Food Depository, located on the city’s west side. Broken up into five different areas, volunteers all took turns sorting, packing, and repacking food and school items, all to later be distributed to individuals throughout the city.
The day of service was especially meaningful to Bronx, New York resident, Jerlisa Fontaine, who partnered with Nurse Noel to provide health education to Chicago residents. Aside from the highlight of her day meeting Dikembe Mutombo, Jerlisa said, “I think it’s important to do this kind of work because you’re getting to know the culture. If you find out that people are actively doing these things, you get a sense of what’s important. So as a New Yorker, when I come here and engage in something like this, it tells me what Chicago cares about.”
In addition to Mutombo, Some of the players in attendance included Donovan Mitchell, Robert Horry, Glen Rice, Jason Collins, Jameer Nelson, Anthony Davis, Ron Harper, Brandon Ingram, and Dwight Howard. When asked if the Day of Service was the best part of All-Star Weekend, Howard said, “It’s the best moment. Being able to put smiles on people’s faces and helping them enjoy this weekend is all about love.” He also said, “We’re here to spread love, spread happiness, and we’re glad to be a part of it. It’s the best part.”
Former Chicago Bulls player, Ron Harper, brought his children to understand the importance of volunteering. “My kids need to see what we do. Every year I tell them, instead of giving clothes away, put them in a bag and donate. We always try to find ways to help people out. It’s a great thing to do,” he said.
For more information on NBA Cares, visit cares.nba.com.
Contributing writers, Racquel Coral and Tammy Gibson