2017 Hoops For Troops
Thursday, November 9th, the Dallas Mavericks staff joined with Dallas Mavericks, Dennis Smith Jr. and Dorian Finney-Smith, dancers, ManiAACs, and Caliber Home Loans to host a “Commitment to Service” volunteerism event.
DALLAS – In celebration of the NBA’s Hoops for Troops week, the Dallas Mavericks partnered with approximately two dozen active military from NAS Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base on Thursday and boxed over 10,000 meals that will go to needy families in North Texas.
Dennis and Dorian help package meals with Hoops for Troops
One of the active military personnel who helped box meals at American Airlines Center is Grand Prairie’s Tiffany Parker, who jumped at the chance to help those who could use a helping hand.
“This is a great opportunity for us to get out and serve,” Parker said. “Not only just serve the country, but to serve those who are less fortunate than us.”
“Being in the Air Force we’re always taught to service before self, and we have a wing man mentality. So we’re going to do whatever it takes to make sure the community is taken care of, and we’ll taking care of those others that are less fortunate than us.”
Along with the military personnel, Mavs rookie guard Dennis Smith Jr., second-year forward Dorian Finney-Smith, the ManiAACs, Mavs Dancers and members of Caliber Home Loans and Mavs staff also helped pack the 10,000-plus meals in less than one hour. The group packed a total of 10,080 meals of jambalaya that were delivered directly to the North Texas Food Bank.
“I think this is great,” Smith said. “It was a really good experience because as a kid this is something I always wanted.”
“Growing up in the area that I did (in Fayetteville, N.C.), I know a lot of kids that wanted something like this to happen to them. So I appreciate the opportunity and I look forward to doing a lot more in the future.”
Last year when he was a rookie during Hoops for Troops week, Finney-Smith helped build a ramp for those who use a wheelchair. So he was more than happy to return this year and offer his support again.
“I’m honored to be able to help the community and give back,” Finney-Smith said. “I love the opportunity to work with the community and make a difference.”
“Last year I built a wheelchair ramp for Hoops for Troops and it was fun, and this year I decided I’m going to pack some food.”
Finney-Smith feels especially indebted to the men and women of the military.
“They sacrifice a lot to be out there for this country,” Finney-Smith said. “To serve in the armed forces and help the world and the community is a great accomplishment.”
The NBA’s Hoops for Troops Week is in conjunction with Veterans Day, which is Saturday.
“Every year the NBA and all of the teams come together to celebrate Hoops For Troops week,” said Katie Edwards, the Director of Community Relations for the Mavs. “It’s a great time for the team, our players and all of our staff and volunteers to join with the military, and we work side-by-side to give back to the community.”
“We’ll do this every year and we like to change our impact and really do lots of different things. We’ve built wheelchair ramps, we’ve done partnerships with the food bank, and this year we were partnered with Feeding Children Everywhere to assemble the meals for those in need who are here in North Texas.”
Krystal Rivera, the Regional Manager for Feeding Children Everywhere, opened an office in Dallas this past year, and it didn’t take her long to figure out who was going to be one of her closest allies.
“We opened up an office here in Dallas as a response to Dallas being the third-largest food desert in America,” said Rivera, whose main headquarters is located in Orlando, Fla. “So when we moved to Dallas, I started reaching out to some really great companies who are known for giving back and being involved in the community, and a common theme was the Mavs.”
“The Mavs give back, they love on their community, and so I connected with the head of their foundation, who is Katie Edwards and who was so open to supporting us once she learned about our mission. I said, ‘Katie, let’s do this together and let’s make something work,’ and here we are.”
Bryan Bergjans, the National Director of Military & Veteran Lending for Caliber Home Loans, also partnered with the Mavs on Thursday’s project. Headquartered in Coppell, Caliber Home Loans work to meet the mortgage needs of the men and women who are serving – or who have served – in the United States Armed Forces.
“Any time we get an opportunity to partner up with the military and do community outreach, we want to do it,” Bergjans said. “The best way to get involved in the community is by doing stuff like this, so partnering up with Mavericks and having an opportunity to partner up with the Air Force really allows us to get involved with our community partners and show our commitment to serving the military and helping.”
“Any time you get to do things where you walk away feeling great about everything and you’re getting involved in the community, it’s fantastic. Caliber Home Loans is fantastic for supporting the military and the community, so any chance that we get in the future to partner up with the Mavericks, we’ll hopefully be able to do it.”
That support by Caliber Home Loans is much appreciated by Clay Jennings, who is a member of the NAS Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base. As music blared in the background while the volunteers were busy packing the boxes with food, Jennings explained what this symbolic day of serving meant to him.
“We wanted to bring out the holiday spirit, bring out the other functions about how the military serves our folks,” Jennings said. “We’re one percent or two percent of the country, so it’s extremely honorable for one, not forgetting about us, and two, it gives us another opportunity to give back in a different way.”
“I’m really humbled, really honored and I truly love this. It’s awesome, we’re thankful, and the public should know we’ve always got their back. No matter what their thoughts and political agenda are, we’re always there.”
A North Carolina State Wolfpack product, Smith can’t wait until next year when he hopes he’ll be selected again to help pay tribute to the military during the NBA’s Hoops for Troops week.
“I met a couple of great people and a fellow Wolfpack, so it’s been a good experience,” Smith said. “It’s all for a good cause — I’m 100 percent in for it.”
“They’re super excited, I came over here excited. Whenever I saw everybody and how excited they were that gave some more life to it, so it was really a good experience for me.”
Finney-Smith also left American Airlines Center with a warm and fuzzy feeling in his heart about his involvement with the troops.
“It’s an honor to be working alongside them knowing how much they sacrificed for the United States,” Finney-Smith said. “All of the people I’ve met through Hoops For Troops have been amazing. Hopefully I can continue doing it.”