Friday, May 29, 2009

Detroit Shock Help Feed the Children in Traverse City

Clear blue skies welcomed the Detroit Shock to Traverse City Friday afternoon. Shortly after checking into their rooms at the Grand Traverse Resort, the players and coaches were bused to Anderson Warehouse, where they helped distribute boxes of food and personal care items to local families in need.

“It’s important to give back to the community. There’s a lot of people who have given us the chance to do what we do, play basketball in the States, and they support us,” said Katie Smith (on left, welcoming vehicle). “We just want to give back to people who need it and hopefully put a smile on their faces.”

Britany Miller, Cheryl Ford, Kara Braxton and Kristin Haynie do the heavy lifting as they wait for more cars to roll through. One woman was so excited to have Ford come up to her car that she asked the 2007 All-Star Game MVP to sign the notepad on her dashboard.

“Everybody knows how bad our economy is, and this, getting to come out and meet the people up close and personal, to see the smile on somebody’s face … is just a touching thing for everyone,” Ford said.

Plenette Pierson and Shavonte Zellous (with Barb Farris in the background) appreciate some help from one of the volunteers, who came from the families associated with the girls’ basketball teams at Traverse City Central and Kalkaska high schools.

“Our girls are thrilled. A lot of them watch a lot of the Shock games and they’re real excited to watch them [Saturday],” said Kalkaska head coach Dave Dalton. “We were excited at the opportunity and they jumped at it. It’s been fun. I’ve been real pleased with how the Shock players interacted with them.”

Cars lined up all the way to back of the warehouse loading dock, and continued to pull in for more than 90 minutes. The Pistons and Shock community relations staff partnered with the Women’s Resource Center in Traverse City, which distributed vouchers to families most at risk. Approximately 400 families received food, bottled water and personal care items, to the surprise of some local youth.

“I’ve had a lot of my girls ask questions about why they’re coming through,” said Traverse City Central head coach Aric Woughter. “A lot of them don’t see the need in their own community, so it’s a really nice eye-opener that way. The [Shock] players are like icing on the cake, but this community involvement was huge.”

The Shock players and staff join their volunteers from Traverse City and Kalkaska in the front of the Pistons Care Telethon semi-trailer. The boxes that were distributed were funded by the telethon, which on March 11 raised $450,000 for Feed The Children. The players expressed their appreciation to the volunteers by giving each of them an autograph card signed by the entire team.

“The message we give is life is not just about basketball,” Katie Smith said. “It’s about helping each other, just day-to-day. It makes you smile. It’s important to show your face, to show that you’re a normal Joe trying to help out.”