Miami Heat basketball player Udonia Haslem is often seen on the NBA court, but around the holidays he is also called for his charity contributions.
For 12 years, the Udonis Haslem Foundation has awarded an academic achievement award to students with an in-store shopping spree.
On Friday, 100 kids from a group took 100 children to a Walmart in Hollywood, Florida to give them their hearts’ desires by means of a $200 gift card.
“I don’t know if my parents are going to like how many toys I have under the Christmas tree,” student Lyric Harrigan said while standing in the toy aisle.
Sahkavia Aufford and Dolois Johnson and others working for the children helped keep things on track and staying within budget while deciding what items the children wanted.
“It’s giving me nostalgia,” Aufford said.
“I have two kids, and I have the price of each item that they’re buying,” Johnson said.
The kids had a difficult time of choosing the things they could buy.
“I definitely want two of these,” Harrigan said, pointing to a couple of dresses for dolls.
Originally, the event had been going for more than a decade, but volunteers recognized something over the years.
“They found in the past several years the parents have been asking the kids to bring more groceries and buy less toys,” said Karen Grey, a representative for Joshua’s Heart Food Pantry and Grace Foods.
Organizers this year are allowing younger attendees to go home with two free bags of groceries as a way of showing their appreciation.
Haslem, age 42, started the program in order to recall his humble beginnings.
“I remember being in their shoes not too long ago, and wanting things that I couldn’t necessarily afford,” Haslem said. “And my parents couldn’t necessarily get for me.”
He said he has fond memories of these holidays from his own childhood, so he strives to help underprivileged communities in the same way.
It is also a helpful way to let workers know that working hard can create results.
Organizers and supporters of the organization hope that the attendees received at least a few of the items they wanted with their gift card.
After the shopping was complete, the students received an additional gift: a trip to Fun Dimension in Wynwood.
“It’s awesome,” one of the officials said. “It’s beautiful and really awesome.”
With information from CBS News