DALLAS – Earlier this month before unloading a bus filled with coats and other items to keep the homeless warm this winter, guard Wesley Matthews reflected on the things he wanted to cross off his bucket list when he joined the Dallas Mavericks three summers ago.
“When I signed with Dallas, one of the big things my team and I looked at is how can we make the community better,” Matthews said. “We knew what we were going to bring on the court every single night, giving everything that I have, sacrificing my body trying to win games, leadership.”
“What we didn’t know was how we could impact the city and the community.”
Well, Matthews no longer has to worry about how he’ll be able to impact the city of Dallas and the community.
Through the Winter Warm Up Drive and in partnership with Raising Cane’s, Bedgear (they donated over $100,000 worth of pillows and blankets to Dallas LIFE) and FOX Sports Southwest, Matthews and the Mavs challenged fans to donate new and gently used coats, blankets and other winter items for families in need. The items were collected at various Raising Cane’s restaurants in the Dallas/Fort Worth area from December 1-22, and subsequently delivered to the Dallas LIFE homeless shelter on January 12.
Matthews, the Mavs Dancers, ManiAACs and volunteers from the Mavs, Raising Cane’s, and Bedgear helped unload the bus and delivered the items to Dallas LIFE. They also visited with the shelter’s residents and served them dinner.
It was a very impactful day, according to Bob Sweeney, the executive director of Dallas LIFE.
“I have 370 people – 60-80 kids – staying here each night,” Sweeney said. “But think of the number that move on and others that come in and replace them. So well over 1,000 people will be able to get help from this donation right here.”
“These blankets and the quality of these blankets and the warmth that they provide, it just lets a homeless person know they’re loved. And that’s what we really emphasize here at Dallas LIFE.”
Olivia Vailes said she certainly felt the love coming from Matthews and others who were part of the Winter Warm Up Drive. Especially when Matthews personally delivered blankets to her room.
“When I first came to Dallas LIFE, we couldn’t bring our own blankets in, and I was worried,” Vailes said. “But with Dallas LIFE, through people donating things to the foundation, this is very helpful.”
Vailes said it’s comforting to know that she and her two-year old son, La’Zyrion, will be able to lay down on a nice bed for a change.
“It really means a lot to me and my son,” Vailes said. “Now we can sleep comfortable.”
Ashton Hecker, a managing partner at Raising Cane’s, was delighted that his organization could assist in helping the homeless.
“We’re excited once again to be at Dallas LIFE and partner with Wesley Matthews,” Hecker said. “We had 44 restaurants participate this year and we were able to generate a lot more coats and a lot more material to give away.”
Matthews even went so far as to put the sheets on a bed, and then laid down on it to make sure it was suitable for a comforting night of sleep.
“It’s been extremely cold for Dallas standards,” Matthews said. “A big thank you to the Mavericks and Raising Cane’s and Bedgear for donating, and the people in the Dallas area that really came and put their best foot forward and stepped up and made this possible for Dallas LIFE.”
“We get so caught up in stats and numbers and points and all that kind of stuff. What’s important is humanity and being a good person above anything else.”
Sweeney sure was all smiles as Matthews and the volunteers made their way through Dallas LIFE while enjoying conversations with the residents.
“This is a great day for Dallas LIFE,” Sweeney said. “The partnership we have with the Mavericks is absolutely amazing. The players come out, they give of their heart.”
“We can tell that such a great group of people have gathered here with these warm items, and that within a couple of hours they’ll be on the beds helping a lot of people. So just think of the changed lives that happen because of this committed group of volunteers.”
This is not the first time the Mavs have reached out and extended a helping hand to Dallas LIFE.
“The Mavs gave us a 15-passenger van a number of years back that we continue to use on a regular basis,” Sweeney said. “It just shows a give-back to a community, and the Mavericks really can teach a lot of groups how to do that well.”
Hecker second that emotion.
“We’re excited once again to partner with the Dallas Mavericks – a great organization with great leadership,” Hecker said. “Looking across this room, it’s exciting to see the joy and the happiness it brings these families.”
That joy was definitely felt by Sweeney, who is very appreciative of the shining moments his residents were able to enjoy, thanks to the Mavs and their generous partners.
“I want to thank (Mavs proprietor) Mark Cuban, and I want to thank the companies,” Sweeney said. “When a group of people work together to get something accomplished the results changes the lives of hundreds of people.”
“We’re stronger as a group, and that’s what Mark Cuban and all of these companies have shown.”
Vailes wholeheartedly agrees.
“It’s a blessing to have you guys on our side donating and helping the less fortunate, and I really appreciate it,” Vailes said. “It’s cold and this will keep us warm at night.”
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