It’s an unfortunate reality: many people do not have the luxury of spending the holiday season in a warm environment, much less receiving any gifts. Star athletes are uniquely positioned to champion social causes, and reigning NBA MVP Russell Westbrook is taking advantage of his position to challenge homelessness.
On Tuesday, Westbrook hosted his sixth annual Christmas Party in Oklahoma City. The focus of the event is providing gifts to homeless children in Oklahoma.
Westbrook and his Why Not? Foundation, in an event sponsored by Jordan, provided more than 50 kids living at Oklahoma’s City Rescue Mission with shoes, backpacks, t-shirts, and wristbands.
“The more intimate the event is, the better,” Westbrook told reporters at the event. “Obviously I could do a really big event and just give away toys, but I like to be as intimate as possible with the kids, give kids an opportunity to talk, say whatever they want to say to me, see them smile.”
Westbrook, sporting a Santa hat, called each child up by name and personally delivered the gifts. Santa Claus was also in attendance.
“It’s just how I was raised, man,” Westbrook said. “You’ve got to be able to give back, regardless of how much you have, you always give back…I think it’s important. Especially now, in today’s society, everything that’s going on in the world, you’ve got to find a way to give back and help people any way you can and me being in the position I am as well, it’s very important.”
The Why Not? Foundation derives its name from Westbrook’s signature slogan. Westbrook, who is nearly averaging a triple-double again this year (23.3 points, 9.6 rebounds, and 9.8 assists per game), won the NBA Cares Community Assist Award in the 2014-15 season.