(WHTM) – Christmas gifts are no guarantee in every family.
That’s why the Middletown and Steelton-Highspire communities went out of their way to make it happen for 17 children.
“The basketball community in Pennsylvania is fantastic. It’s bigger than x’s and o’s, it’s bigger than championships, it’s about being decent human beings,” says Penn State-Harrisburg head coach Don Friday.
Friday was one of the leaders that help set up this event.
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It all started with a nudge from Middletown police detective Adam Tankersley.
“I reached out to Don a couple weeks ago via email and said ‘hey, I want to challenge your team to go out in the community and do something nice,” says Tankersley.
Friday loved the idea. Immediately reaching out to Ollie’s Bargain Outlet on Allentown Blvd. wh pounced on the opportunity to help some youth.
Ollie’s proceeded to donate $500 for the children to shop with.
“The whole thing was we want them to be kids and put the worries of the world behind them and just kind of come in here and focus on taking care of them,” says Friday.
The donations didn’t stop there.
Once Friday and several players from his team were looking into transportation to get the children to the store, Enterprise loved the event so much they also chipped in $1,000 for the kids to shop with.
The total proceeded to jump up to $1,800 with the addition of some private donations and each child had the chance to have $125 each to shop for whatever they wanted.
“What’s really neat is you see these kids are going around here right now picking things on the shelves – they’re thinking about a sibling or grandparent or a parent. Which really goes to show it’s great human spirit,” says Friday.
The day could not have happened without help from two different high school basketball programs as well, Middletown and Steel High.
Both head coaches, Chris Bradford (Blue Raiders) and Tristan Crawford (Rollers), helped to bring the kids to Ollie’s so they could check off their wish lists.
Friday and Tankersley say that the good passed along from today will go a long way in the lives of each child.
“It shows that people care,” says Friday.
“That there’s hope. That there’s hope in the community,” added Tankersley.
“We really know none of these children, but a stranger made this happen. We’re no longer strangers anymore. Today, we think the Middletown community got stronger,” says Friday.