The holiday season marks that special stretch of the year where families come together to spend time with each other and fellowship over their favorite Thanksgiving and Christmas meals. While the image is heartwarming to think about, the reality is not everyone is fortunate enough to have an abundance of food available, family in town or essentials to meet their daily needs. For that reason, the Kyle Kuzma Foundation teamed up with Monumental Basketball and CareFirst Blue Cross BlueShield to present Thankful Meals at Eagle Academy in Southeast D.C. on Saturday.
Thankful Meals provided families in Wards 7 and 8 with hot meals and goods such as GIANT food gift cards, turkey dinners from Henry’s Soul Cafe, care packages, coloring books, and more. Executing such an event could not be done alone. The Kyle Kuzma Foundation received a helping hand from the Washington Wizards, Washington Mystics, Capital City Go-Go, and Wizards Gaming organizations.
On-site to assist with distributing items to participants were a slew of familiar faces to include Wizards Head Coach Wes Unseld Jr. and General Manager Will Dawkins, Wizards players Tyus Jones, Anthony Gill, Bilal Coulibaly, Jared Butler, Eugene Omoruyi, and Mystics players Natasha Cloud and Tianna Hawkins to name a few.
“It means a lot to be here and obviously having the Wizards support and my foundation,” Kyle Kuzma said. “My mother’s here. A lot of my teammates and a lot of people from Monumental Sports are here so it means a lot.”
“Some people may not be able to afford Thanksgiving dinners or get cool little gifts,” Kuzma continued. “Sometimes we forget about the little things in life. Especially for us as athletes and people with a platform. This is kind of what I come from too. Anything we can do to help is a blessing.”
“You can change someone’s day, week, month,” Tyus Jones added. “That’s all we’re trying to do. Even if it’s a small impact, we want to have a positive impact on the community. That’s what this time of year is about…bringing good vibes, positivity, and giving back.”
CareFirst, who frequently partners with Monumental Sports, was a key financial sponsor and supporter of the event. We spoke to CareFirst’s Director of Community Health & Social Impact Kimberly Harris about the partnership, their involvement in the event, and the importance of giving back to the community, especially Wards 7 and 8.
“We’re so excited about Thankful Meals,” Harris said. “We’ve been partnering with Monumental Sports for two years working with nonprofit organizations. We’re at Eagle Academy today providing and giving back to the community, specifically around the holiday’s so we’re giving more meals today, we’re giving vaccines, we have hygiene kits, there’s pies in there, we have sanitizers, and all other things to promote health and well-being throughout the holiday season but just overall.”
On the other side of the coin, Thankful Meals was an opportunity for members of the community that may never step foot into Capital One Arena or the Entertainment and Sports Arena to interact with professional athletes. The joy permeating through the room was very palpable and impacted everyone involved.
More sights and sounds from Thankful Meals: