Hoops for Troops Commitment to Service

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.

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.”

Mavs team up with the Armed Forces to feed the hungry

Hoops for Troops – Commitment to Service

Dallas Mavericks staff and military veterans team up to stuff bags for the Food4Kids program at the North Texas Food Bank.

The Mavs and members of the Armed Forces prepared 5,000 meals Nov. 6 at the North Texas Food Bank which will be distributed to students at more than 330 schools across North Texas as part of Hoops For Troops Week and Hoops For Troops Commitment to Service.

Hoops For Troops Week is a collaborative initiative between the NBA, Department of Defense, and USO. Teams and their current and former players partner with the USO, local installations, and a variety of military- and veteran-serving organizations for several activities, including leadership seminars, community service events, and basketball-focused fitness activities.

Men and women of the Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth teamed up with members of the Mavs’ corporate office, the Mavs Dancers, and the Mavs ManiAACs to pack meals for the Food 4 Kids program. The final food tally: eight pallets, 240 boxes, and 1,680 bags, which comes to right at 5,000 meals.

Aaron Chambers, senior manager of corporate engagement for the Food Bank, said the initiative distributes 12,000 “backpacks” of food across 10 counties each Friday, and the backpacks provide two-thirds of the recommended nutritional value for the entire weekend. Contents included various cereals, snacks, milk, and juice.

“The North Texas Food Bank is particularly grateful to benefit from their partnership, as nearly 1 in 5 of our client households is home to veterans or active duty military,” Chambers said. “Distributing 170,000 meals each day is no easy task, which makes our volunteers essential to our success. Through their legacy of service, members of the Mavericks and the Armed Forces have improved the lives of countless North Texans and helped to lay a foundation that will ensure that countless more will have the nutrition at their most challenging times.”

The Food Bank’s goal is to prepare and distribute 92 million meals across the region, and so far we’re about two-thirds of the way there. Each donated dollar can provide up to three meals for children, senior citizens, or families in need.

From a personal standpoint, working for even just a few hours at the Food Bank was a very fulfilling experience. It’s a good feeling knowing that the bag of nutritious food you’re packing is going to go to a kid who could really use it. And working alongside fellow employees and members of the military made it even better.

Each military staff member who helped also attended the Mavs’ Veterans Day showdown with the Los Angeles Clippers on Nov. 11. They arrived in style, too, on the swanky Fox Sports Southwest Mavs Express Bus. It goes without saying that it was a good time, as that was perhaps the best game of the season so far in the entire league.