ORLANDO, Fla. – Orlando Magic players and staff members woke up early Thursday to host a Thanksgiving breakfast for members of Central Florida’s homeless community.
The Magic teamed up with the Coalition for the Homeless, the largest provider of homeless services in Central Florida, to put on the annual event for the 28th year, one that’s been especially difficult for so many due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The breakfast is made possible by the generosity of Magic Head Coach Steve Clifford, who also volunteered his time to serve meals to those in need Thursday morning.
Clifford said he believes the Magic’s commitment to serving their community is part of what makes them such a special organization, and he’s proud to be a part of it now more than ever.
“I think I’m like most people: I love Thanksgiving, Christmas and especially this year, it’s so trying for everybody with the pandemic and the limitations on how all of us have to live but to be involved with the Magic who have always been so active in the community, it means a great deal to all of us,” Clifford said.
Retired NBA player and Magic community ambassador Bo Outlaw and his family were also a part of the event Thursday morning. He said there’s so much to be thankful for during this difficult year.
“With the pandemic, this is truly a day of thanks,” Outlaw said. “Thanksgiving is the appropriate day for today.”
Outlaw said being a part of the event reminded him that the day is all about giving, and he said he has no problem giving his time to the community that has given his organization so much.
“This is where I live. They support us so we’re going to try to support them as much as we can. And that’s what it’s about – helping each other out. Sometimes I’m going to need help, sometimes you’re going to need help ... It makes us a better community. That’s what it’s about, helping one another. It’s not about me, it’s about we,” Outlaw said.
John Beard, who said he’s had a very trying year, said he was grateful to have received a meal on Thanksgiving Day and thanked the Magic for their generosity.
“They have blessed us every year and they just keep on bringing gifts and God bless y’all,” he said. “Y’all really bless the homeless out here, thank y’all.”
Because of the pandemic, some adjustments had to be made to the annual event, including offering meals to go instead of inviting everyone to eat in the homeless shelter’s dining room.
Outlaw said volunteers were able to minimize contact while still making a big impact on the community.
Thanksgiving breakfast was prepared for more than 400 homeless men, women and children at the Coalition, according to a news release.