Oklahoma military members team up with OKC Thunder to provide meals

Staff members with the Oklahoma City Thunder and servicemembers from across Oklahoma pose for a photo during a joint NBA and Department of Defense volunteer event at the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma on Monday. (Photo courtesy of Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma)

Staff members with the Oklahoma City Thunder and servicemembers from across Oklahoma pose for a photo during a joint NBA and Department of Defense volunteer event at the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma on Monday. (Photo courtesy of Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma)

WILL ROGERS AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Okla. - -- Oklahoma military personnel and the Oklahoma City Thunder teamed up to organize meals at the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma as part of the Department of Defense and the National Basketball Association's "Commitment to Service" collaboration.

The program, which began in April 2014, was focused on community, leadership, transition and health. Working jointly at the Food Bank demonstrates the patriotism and a spirit of service to help meet local needs throughout the state.

"It's a great partnership," said Rodney Bivens, Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, executive director. "The Thunder have been coming here for a number of years and for servicemembers to be here today is really exciting. It's a win-win situation."

A mixture of servicemembers from Navy, Army, Air Force, Coast Guard and Oklahoma National Guard and Reserves from across Oklahoma, worked alongside the Thunder players and staff to put together boxes of carrots, tomatoes, peanut butter, cereal, juice boxes, milk, pudding, snack bars and saltine crackers.

In total, they packed 21,660 meals.  The food packed will go out to 53 counties and 501 elementary schools the Food Bank services.

"We just came out to help pack up food for [Oklahomans] in need," said Air Force Master Sgt. John Whang, 137th Logistics Readiness Squadron, Will Rogers Air National Guard Base.

Giving back to the community is one reason why Sgt. 1st Class Rosaan Davis, a senior logistician with the Adjutant General Reception Battalion at Fort Sill, chose to volunteer.

"Giving back is what it's all about," said Sergeant Davis. "I'm glad to have this opportunity to help those who live in Oklahoma."

Providing the local community with an example of how the military services them is a benefit for everyone involved, according to Mr. Bivens.

"Our military fights day in and day out for our freedom," said Mr. Bivens. "Helping with an event like this gives back to the community in a way that is above and beyond what the military usually has to do."

Giving back to the local and military community is one reason Thunder forward Nick Collison enjoys being a part of these types of events. Mr. Collison's grandfather fought in World War II, which has given him a great respect for servicemembers.

"We realize that part of playing in the NBA is being a part of the community," said Mr. Collison. "So, when we have the opportunity to participate in events like this that help the less fortunate, we like to be involved. I love being able to be around servicemembers. Every time they play the national anthem before the game I think about my grandfather, so I don't take what the military does for our country lightly."