The Dallas Mavericks spread holiday hope to those in need during the Season of Giving with charitable events across North Texas

by Sabrina Corsiga | December 24, 2019

During the Dallas Mavericks’ annual Dinner with Santa event on Dec. 6, a pint-sized preschooler with bouncy curls and endless energy cupped player Luka Dončić’s face with her tiny hands and just stared. Dončić’s teammates couldn’t help but chuckle as the rambunctious little girl named Emily bounced in and out of her seat with excitement. Dončić himself just smiled and allowed Emily to embrace her moment without restrictions, free to simply be a child. 

Dinner with Santa is just one of many events created as part of the Dallas Mavericks’ Season of Giving, a tradition where the team’s players, coaches and staff come together to give back to hundreds of children and families in need across the metroplex. The initiative is comprised of activities that spread joy and laughter while raising awareness about the most vulnerable members of our community.

Being thankful

The annual tip-off to the Season of Giving took place during the Mavs Turkey Giveaway on Nov. 21. While partnering with Buckner International, Mavs players Dorian Finney-Smith and Maxi Kleber handed out 250 Thanksgiving meals to underprivileged families and prepared food for families who otherwise wouldn’t have had a holiday dinner. Kroger, the official grocery store of the Mavs, provided Thanksgiving turkeys along with an assortment of veggies, side dishes and dessert for each family.

Finney-Smith described his experience of interacting with families during the Turkey Giveaway as a meaningful one.

“You never know what someone is going through, so to put a smile on their face [is important],” said Finney-Smith.

When asked what he’s most thankful for this holiday season, Finney-Smith said he’s most thankful to have the opportunity to be a blessing in someone else’s life.

Finney-Smith knows what it means to be in need. His mother Desiree raised six children as a single mom and he tries to “be that light for other kids and families.”

April Martin, Corporate Affairs Manager for Kroger’s Dallas division, mentioned taking pride in Kroger’s partnership with the Mavs because the basketball team has always been a giving organization. 

“I think a lot of people don’t know that the Mavericks are more than just players, but they actually have people on their team both on the court and off the court who are committed to the community,” Martin said.

Keeping warm

Dallas Maverick JJ Barea wants to remind us all to carve out time for what really matters in this season of giving. That’s why he’s joining fans during the month of December to donate new and gently used coats, blankets and other winter items for families in need for the Dallas Mavericks annual Winter Warm-Up Drive in partnership with Raising Cane’s. Last winter, the Winter Warm-Up Drive received over a thousand coats to give to families living in North Texas homeless shelters. To try to top last year’s success, Mavs guard JJ Barea has been raising awareness of this heart-warming initiative by volunteering to serve at the drive-thru and counter at DFW Raising Cane’s locations. These customers were so touched, they’ll be returning to drop their winter item donations in the bins soon.

“[The winter drive is] something simple, but I think it’s important,” Barea said, “you need some coats for the weather. It gets cold, so helping people out with that is good.”

Crystal Cloyd, the marketing leader for Raising Cane’s, also expressed her enthusiasm for Barea’s gracious involvement and support.

“It’s just fun for the community, for the [Raising Cane’s] crew, and it really highlights what we’re trying to do for the shelters here in Dallas that we have,” Cloyd said.

Spreading holiday cheer

For the Mavs, seeing pure delight on a child’s face can be incredibly rewarding, and events like Dinner with Santa further allow the team to spread those contagious grins. Held at the Mavs Practice Facility this season, more than 50 underserved children enjoyed a delicious Christmas meal and received a personalized bag of gifts and necessities from the Mavs, along with a dental kit courtesy of sponsor Jefferson Dental & Orthodontics. The joyful night also started off with a reading of “Twas the Night Before Christmas” from a very special guest, Santa Claus.

Player Maxi Kleber commented on the fun environment surrounding Dinner with Santa and how seeing the children smile made him and his fellow players smile just as much. 

“For those kids, they will remember this for the rest of their lives,” Kleber said. “This is a very special moment and you feel very proud as a player to be part of that.”

Mavs CEO Cynt Marshall added that the annual event represents the Mavs’ way of giving back and doing something special during their Season of Giving.

“There’s nothing like [Dinner with Santa], especially knowing [the kids’] circumstances,” said Marshall, “they don’t have a lot to smile about. But right now, today, they do.”

Helping hands across North Texas

For the Mavs, the holiday spirit doesn’t stop after a couple of events. Additional efforts during the Season of Giving also included surprising young patients at Children’s Health Hospital, ringing bells while inspiring giving alongside the Salvation Army and paying off remaining balances on layaways at Walmart locations right before Christmas.

Fans can take pride in knowing their city is represented by a team that aims to embrace the community, and these initiatives highlight how the Mavs play for a greater purpose. They play for those struggling with homelessness and hunger and spend the holidays showing kids and families that they care.

To learn more about the Dallas Mavericks’ efforts to play for a stronger North Texas, visit mavs.com/community.

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