(Photo by Michael Kinney)
By Michael Kinney
As Karen Garland walked through the aisles of Homeland Wednesday, she couldn’t believe what was going on. She was still in shock just how she came to be pushing a shopping cart with an NBA player by her side.
However, Garland had to focus. Even though the $500 that Homeland and the Oklahoma City Thunder gave her for the shopping spree was a lot, she wanted to make sure she got the essentials.
“That was my strategy, go straight to the meat,” Garland said. “I was thinking there might be a time limit, you know like 10 minutes to get all you can get. So my thing is go straight to the meat. I can buy the little can corn and whatever vegetables with my cash.”
Garland didn’t need to worry. There was no time limit on the shopping spree she had won. She and her granddaughters, Kiera and Taleah Myrks, were guided through the Homeland (2400 Cornwell Drive) by Oklahoma City Thunder forward Hamidou Diallo and Russell Raydon, store manager of Homeland at Yukon.
“It’s great to see families happy,” Diallo said. “It’s great to just go on a shopping spree for a day. And help them forget about their troubles for the day. Just try and enjoy life and sit back and don’t take it for granted.”
It took less than an hour for Garland and her shopping team to fill up almost two baskets full of items that her family needed.
“Another blessing. And the blessing came through. My granddaughter, we were having a hard time there for a minute,” Garland said. “Her and one of her counselors entered my name in this drawing, I didn’t know what to think of it. But she didn’t either. She didn’t even tell me until I won. She told me, and I got excited. I’m still excited. Honestly, it’s just a blessing.”
This was the fourth time this season that Homeland has teamed up with the Thunder to offer the shopping spree to need a family in need. The players seemingly get as much out of the shopping trip as the shoppers. For many reminds them of their own families.
Diallo remembers what it was like growing up in Queens New York and says he and his family would have reacted in the same manner as Garland if she had been offered shopping spree.
“It would’ve been great if my family had that opportunity growing up,” Diallo said. “I’m pretty sure my mom would’ve been bawl out crying and she would’ve just been so excited and it would have motived us as a family to keep pursuing our dreams and keep waking up every day with the purpose of know that our parents put us on this planer because they want to see us achieve our goals. And to bring joy to their lives because they have struggled so much.”
Garland became emotional through the afternoon as she thought back on everything she had been through and where she and her family had come from.
“Because I’ve gone through so much in my life. You know I had the stroke and it left me where I couldn’t walk, I had to learn to walk again,” Garland said. “I had two blood clots in both legs, ended up having to have back surgery, and all these things. I had two or three things at the same time. I had a brain aneurism. I had like three to four things at the same time that could’ve killed me, and I just felt like that was a miracle, that I’m up and even moving them around. And I do, I thank God every morning that I wake up, and I can sit up myself. But that’s why I’m just thankful.”
But it was when Garland received an extra Homeland gift card with $500 on it after the spree that Garland really began to shed tears as she knew just how much it was going to help her family.
“Yeah, this meat will take me a while,” Garland said. “And then with the other card that’s… I’m set for a few months.”
Just as important for Garland as the actual food the family was able to fit into the shopping carts was the experience of her granddaughters watching Diallo give back to his community. She said it’s something she believes the young ladies will do as they get older.
“That’s why we as players and us as the Thunder organization do what we do,” Diallo said. “Because the kids are our future. That’s what I am all about. That’s what I preach, helping out people in need because I was once in their shoes.”
Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Provider with Michael Kinney Media