Clippers bring smiles and food to South L.A. families

LOS ANGELES-Every year, the Salvation Army and the Los Angeles Clippers Foundation come together to assist residents in need. The result has been a daylong process of standing in long lines with the reward of families and individuals receiving much-needed personal care items and a bag full of food. That’s not to mention the opportunity to get to meet and greet a member of the Los Angeles Clippers.

At least a 1,000 families or individuals made their way to the Salvation Army Siemon Family Youth and Community Center in South Los Angeles on a hot, sweltering Saturday afternoon and waited patiently in line until it was their number was called to be serviced. The L.A. Clippers Foundation’s Feed the Community event was given some luster when Clippers stars such as DeAndre Jordan, Brice Johnson, Sindarius Thornwell and Montrezl Harrell came out to hand out and mingle with the locals.

Thornwell, who was acquired by the Clippers from the Milwaukee Bucks after being picked as the No. 49 selection in 2017 NBA Draft, said doing community involvement work “important.”

L.A. Clippers rookie Sidarius Thornwell with friends at the Los Angeles Clippers Foundation’s Feed the Community event in South L.A. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman

“When I was in school, we did a lot of these types of events, coming out and interacting with the community, because that’s who supports us in the games,” said Thornwell, who starred collegiately at South Carolina University. “It’s good for us to come out here and build relationships with these people and for them to get a hands-on relationship with us. It’s good for everybody.”

Besides its unique collaboration with the Salvation Army, the Los Angeles Clippers Foundation also partnered with American Airlines and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center to help pull this event off. More than four dozen employees from Cedars-Sinai came out to volunteer their time to help out in the effort to help out, said Carolyn Buenaflor, associate director of Healthy Habits at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

“Cedars-Sinai is the official health partner of the Los Angeles Clippers, and we’re really, really happy and proud of that partnership, because we’re both very committed to helping out the community,” Buenaflor said. “It’s a continuation of our partnership, it’s an extension of our partnership. That’s part of the reason why we partner with the Clippers, because of their commitment to the community. We’re committed to the community, so it’s more than just a natural extension of even being out here. It’s always nice to be at events like this where players are interacting with community members, and they’re out in the sun with us, along with employees and season-ticket holders.”

The Los Angeles Clippers Foundation’s Feed the Community event was geared to feed as many as 1,000 individuals and families in South Los Angeles. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman

Mortimer Jones, the executive director of Salvation Army Siemon Family Youth and Community Center, said this event helps residents in so many ways. One of those ways that Jones said it helps families and individuals-who are pre-screened before they take part in the event-is that the items they receive allows them to re-direct whatever funds they may have into other avenues such as paying bills.

“To put words on how important this is, is difficult,” Jones said. “We’ve been doing this for some time, but more importantly, it’s the impact it makes on families every day. An example I will with that is that our families get to take home groceries, and the money they would have bought groceries with this week, they can their utility bills, take care of medical expenses, maybe school supplies. Our families struggle, they struggle. When we can give the basic needs of the food, and in turn, be able to help them with some expenses…it’s hard for me to put a price to that. It is so basic, yet so essential. It is an event I wish we can keep doing.”

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