DALLAS – Dwight Powell was giddy as a child as he logged onto Zoom and prepared to once again make the holidays a lot brighter for more than 50 Dallas families.

For the last six years, Powell has teamed up with the Mavs and surprised North Texas families by paying off their layaway balances. Usually the NBA big man is there in person to greet and surprise the families, but the coronavirus forced him to go virtual this year.

Still, the impact was just as meaningful for all the people who were invited to Burlington Coat Factory Tuesday night — only to find out their holiday layaway balance now stood at zero.

“I wish I could be there because I could feel the energy in that place,” Powell shared. “I can see it in everyone’s eyes. They are feeling the love and I always love to interact and be around others, especially during the holidays.”

Pay Away the Layaway was founded in 2011 and is exactly what it sounds like: a charity that pays off people’s layaway balances. The organizers mainly choose families who purchase items for kids — clothes, baby products, school supplies, coats, books and toys — from retailers like Burlington and Walmart.

This year Coca-Cola Southwest Beverages also joined in with Powell and the Mavericks to create a magical evening for all those who attended.

Every person picked up their items and then organizers handed the families an iPad with Powell on the other end to deliver the news. Some people stood their shocked, others cried and many people expressed an overwhelming sense of gratitude.

“I think it’s a super meaningful year for this, for sure,” said Powell. “I think it’s important especially around the holidays to remind ourselves what’s truly important.

“The whole nature of this year has forced us to remember what’s important and that’s loved ones, our health, and our family. The little things along the way leading up to the holiday can set the tone for a good year to come. I really hope these items they received tonight can push them forward in hope and healing.”

When the families arrive at Burlington, Mavs’ mascot, Champ, along with Mavs ManiAACS delivered items to the families’ cars, along with a supply of Coca-Cola products for the holidays.

Powell said he’s elated and enthused to be in position to make a difference in a lot of people’s live.

“I think one of the important things we can never forget as NBA players and guys in our position is that because of the communities around us is why we’re able to do the things that we do,” Powell said. “So in any situation in any time if you can find ways to give back, it’s the most important part of our job, especially around the holiday season.”

He ended the call with a message of hope for MFFLs around the globe: “spread love, spread love, spread love,” Powell emphatically expressed.

“If you have to, go old school and write a letter and send it through the mail. Call and reach out to others. Right now, more than ever, we need each other. We need human connection, even if we can’t be together in person. So my message is, just really spread love and kindness and hope the best you can.”

ABOUT MAVS CARE: The Dallas Mavericks strive to be champions on the court and in the community. We are dedicated to building a stronger community through educational programs, health and wellness initiatives, environmental efforts, support for military veterans, and grants to nonprofit organizations. Through our community programs and the Mavs Foundation, we are changing lives in North Texas and have impacted thousands of children, families and communities. Learn more at Mavs.com/Community @mavsoffcourt.

ABOUT COCA-COLA SOUTHWEST BEVERAGES: Dallas-based Coca-Cola Southwest Beverages (CCSWB), a company of Arca Continental, is one of the largest Coca-Cola bottlers in the United States. CCSWB produces, markets and distributes Coca-Cola brands throughout Texas and parts of New Mexico, Oklahoma and Arkansas. The company employs more than 8,000 associates who operate seven production plants and 37 distribution facilities, serving more than 31 million consumers. For more information about Coca-Cola Southwest Beverages, please visit www.cocacolaswb.com.

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