By Michael Kinney
Carmelo Anthony remembers what it was like. Growing up in Baltimore, the youngest of four children in a single-parent household, times could be tough.
Because of that, Anthony says it’s natural for him to give back to those in need. That has been part of his resume since he joined the NBA.
The Carmelo Anthony Foundation has been in partnership with Feed The Children for almost a decade and have helped thousands of families in the process.
“The first year was more about the partnership and giving back and establishing a foundation on what we wanted to accomplish throughout the years,” Anthony said. “Then it started getting bigger and bigger and bigger. We went from feeding 100 families to 400, 600 to 800. So to be able to start something new here in Oklahoma City with me being a fresh face here, hopefully, I get a chance to feel the people here in Oklahoma City. The will understand what I’m trying to do, understand my initiative, understand what we’re trying to accomplish.”
Anthony showed this Saturday when he held his first event as a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder. He kicked off the Feed the Children’s No Hunger Holidays campaign by distributing food, toys and other needed items to 800 Oklahoma City families in need.
“We all know that hunger, whether it’s in Oklahoma, whether it’s in our country or around the world is a big issue,” Anthony said. “I’ve been working with Feed The Children for almost 10 years now with my foundation. So every year we give back around the holidays with a drive. This time, this year I really wanted to touch the community in Oklahoma. Today we are touching 800 families and that’s the most important thing.”
One of those families belongs to Oklahoma City resident, RJ Medina, who thanked Anthony for being at the Feed the Children and with the Thunder.
“That’s amazing, man,” Medina said. “Him out here doing for the kids and stuff.”
Anthony says he gets as much out of giving back as the families do.
“For me, seeing them happy with a smile, whether it’s the parent or the child or the family as a whole, giving them some type of hope, something they can look forward to during the holidays,” Anthony said. “Even during this time right now, it’s a good thing for me because I get to see other people smile.”
According to Thunder General Manager Sam Presti, Anthony’s charity work shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that has watched him grow up in the league.
“For those of us who’ve known about Carmelo and his off-court endeavors since he’s been in the NBA, it’s actually not surprising,” Presti said. “His relationship with this particular non-profit is long-standing. It’s really impressive they were able to put something together to impact 800 families in a pretty short amount of time. He has a history if philanthropy in many different ways and it shows this is not a one time thing for him.”
Anthony’s fight against childhood hunger is one that doesn’t get as much attention as other issues in the state of Oklahoma. But more than 18 percent of Oklahoma City residents live below the poverty line and do not have the resources necessary to provide for their families.
Poverty among the youth in the state and the nation is at an alarmingly high rate.
“One in six children faces hunger in America, and 1 in 4 children around the world suffers from chronic malnutrition that stunts growth,” according to Feed The Children. “The biggest reason kids are hungry, both in the U.S. and around the world, is poverty. Poverty often means children not only don’t have enough to eat, they don’t have access to clean water, health care or education. They face hunger, disease and even death.”
Those who lined up Saturday afternoon to receive food from Anthony and the Feed the Children staff are part of those fighting poverty and the effects on their children. According to Gary Sloan, COO of Feed the Children, 100 percent from the Hilldale Elementary School and Mayfield Middle School are part of the free or reduced lunch program.
“There is a great need locally, across the state and country. Anytime a child is hungry, it’s going to hinder their learning,” Sloan said. “This is a very important event. Having Carmelo here conveying that message only helps.”
The Feed the Children’s No Hunger Holidays campaign is part of a larger Feed the Children initiative to feed 10,000 Oklahoma families, as well as thousands of families across the U.S., throughout the holiday season, according to Feed The Children.
“It’s fantastic to have Carmelo here,” Sloan said. “He’s actually worked with Feed The Children almost 10 years now. It’s always great to have his support. It’s very important for the Oklahoma community to have him involved here. Anytime you can bring somebody in like Carmelo, who can share the message of hunger, the message is going to go around not only Oklahoma City and Oklahoma, but actually the nation.”
Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Writer with Eyeamtruth.com