Aldridge Changes Lives One Turkey Dinner At A Time
By sarahhecht Posted in: LaMarcusAldridge
It feels like I’ve written this story a hundred times in my head. And each time all I can come back to is how experiencing something so moving made me feel. I felt proud and strong and ready to go out into the world and do my small part in improving the lives of my community. This overwhelming feeling of empowerment came thanks to one man. A man who’s admired for his successes on the basketball court and will undoubtedly be recognized for his contributions to his community. That man is All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge.
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to join Aldridge as he traveled to east Portland to deliver holiday style meals he'd purchased to over 100 families at the Police Activities League. This may not sound like something out of the norm as many professional athletes participate in serving the needy this time of year, but trust me, this was very different...
In the week leading up to the Trail Blazers 17th Annual Harvest Dinner
, an event Aldridge has participated in since his rookie year, the power forward spent time pondering the meaning behind the whole event. Harvest Dinner wasn’t moving him the way it had in the past, it was time to branch out on his own.
“I always felt like I wanted to do some things in the community on my own,” Aldridge said. “I thought about it last week, emailed Tracy [Rose] and she was all on board for it. She did some research for me and we called PAL and they were up for it too,” Aldridge said. “I wanted to do something different this year, to help in a different way.
I watched as Aldridge personally handed out turkeys and boxes full of all the fixin’s for a traditional holiday meal. When he was done making sure everyone had their food he moved on to spending quality time with the hundreds of kids in the building. He took every moment necessary to sign autographs on t-shirts, notebooks and even the shoes of kids’ feet.
“Where I grew up it was like this,” Aldridge said. “To have anybody come in my neighborhood and do this, I would have loved it. This was fun for me.”
Aldridge grew up living a very different lifestyle than he is now. There were nights when his family could’ve used a box of food to satiate their hungry stomachs. “We had nights where we didn’t have anything to eat,” he said. “That’s why giving back at Thanksgiving and Christmas, that’s why that means a lot to me. I think about those days and nights where I was hungry.
“It’s horrible, that’s a very helpless feeling.”
Watching a man who’s world is far removed from the lives of those families brought a swell of pride, like when you watch something occur and know that you want to do and give more and be better just to attempt to impact lives the way they have. It’s tough to put into words.
But as incredible as observing Aldridge’s generosity first hand was, it was what happened afterward in the parking lot that took the experience to a new level. As Aldridge walked to his car with his buddy who’d joined him I overheard a bit of their conversation, they didn’t jump to basketball or another topic, instead they were intensely discussing the importance of spearheading events like the one he’d just orchestrated and the impact they were determined to have on a community who’d blessed him with so much.
“Hopefully it can give them [kids] confidence and let them know that we know they over here and that I care and my whole team cares about them,” Aldridge said. “I think this is important for them to say that we came over here.
“Hopefully me being here can help them feel like they can help somebody else.”