Nets players surprise, pass out gifts to disadvantaged children at Atlantic Terminal
The holidays came early for a group of 75 underprivileged kids on Tuesday as four Brooklyn Nets players danced, laughed and handed out gifts to children at Santa Land at Atlantic Terminal in Downtown Brooklyn.
And although the Nets had an away game in Houston the night before, that didn’t stop All-Star center Brook Lopez, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Luis Scola and Justin Hamilton from coming out and giving back to the local kids.
The youngsters, ages six to 10, were from Children of Promise, NYC (CPNYC), a nonprofit that helps children who have incarcerated parents. CPNYC is based in Bedford-Stuyvesant, which has one of the highest concentrations of incarceration in the city.
Each year, the program serves more than 350 children through programs that are specifically designed to meet the kids’ needs, interests and concerns. The group’s mission statement is “To embrace children of incarcerated parents and empower them to break the cycle of intergenerational involvement in the criminal justice system.”
The CPNYC website states that one in nine African-American children, one in 28 Latino children and one in 57 Caucasian children have a parent that is incarcerated.
Nationwide, 2.7 million kids have a parent in jail. In New York state, 105,000 kids have a parent behind bars, according to CPNYC.
Similar to the beginning of a basketball game, each Nets player was announced individually. They danced their way down a runway lined with kids, high-fiving them along the way in front of a backdrop of candy canes, Christmas trees and snow-covered brownstones. The children’s eyes grew wide with each and every announcement.
Lopez, who is now in his ninth year with the team, elicited the loudest applause from the kids. Although Lopez garnered a lot of cheers, the MVP of the day was Santa. Kids came up to his chair, sat on his lap and took photos with him and their new gifts.
Nets forward Hollis-Jefferson even showed off his dance moves for the kids as hip-hop and Top 40 tunes played from the speakers.
“It just makes me feel good to be here,” said Hollis-Jefferson. “To be able to support the children, be around the kids, the energy, the people cheering on the kids, is an amazing feeling.”
In addition to the Nets players, the Nets cheerleaders, the Brooklynettes, were also on hand to spread holiday cheer.
The gifts were generously donated by Toys for Tots.
The event was part of the team’s Brooklyn Nets Assist program, which “is committed to giving back and bettering the lives of those in the surrounding communities. It strives to positively impact the community’s youth and adults through various initiatives and programs focusing on four pillars: Education, Athletics, Health & Wellness and Community Development.”
After Tuesday’s home game against the Los Angeles Lakers, the Nets won’t be back at Barclays Center until Dec. 22, when they host Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors.
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