Shoppers at the Princeton Street Walmart in Orlando got some extra holiday cheer Thursday thanks to the Orlando Magic’s Aaron Gordon, Jonathon Simmons and Khem Birch.
The trio teamed up with Pepsi to help 100 children from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida ball out with $100 gift cards to the store. Their only instructions: Have fun.
“Some of these kids can’t get everything that they want for Christmas so we come here with a little donation from Pepsi helping them get one or two things they might not be able to get otherwise,” Gordon said. “I remember when I was a kid and I wanted toys and sometimes we couldn’t get the toys that we couldn’t afford, so to come here and be able to shop with these kids and see how excited they are, it’s special.”
For Simmons, the trip wasn’t about scoring points — it was an important exercise in boosting the holiday spirits of the children and their families. He said being able to exchange gifts over the holidays helps build family bonds and creates lasting, positive memories.
“It’s very special,” he said. “I’m actually looking forward to seeing my family for Christmas as well.”
Rich Loomis, a sales manager at Pepsi’s Orlando facility, said the joint venture with the Magic was a natural fit since both companies practice the same fundamentals when it comes to giving back to the community.
“It’s massive and it’s massive for not only our organization but also with our partnership with the Magic and the local community,” Loomis said. “We are very proud of the partnership with the team and with what this event means to the local community as we help unprivileged kids in the area.”
The shopping trip was also received by Gary Gain, who heads up the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida.
“It really is about the community wrapping their arms around children, wanting them to be successful,” he said. “What we do is provide them a place to be safe, help them with the academics, make sure they understand how they should be conducting themselves. My wife and I both grew up without much, so I know how good it feels when people help you out when you don’t have much.”