NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Two and a half hours before turkey time, Norfolk basketball fans were already lined up to pick up several pounds of frozen love from Dallas Mavericks forward Dorian Finney Smith.
No. 10, a graduate of I.C. Norcom High School and Virginia Tech, has hosted turkey giveaways in the past, but for the year of the pandemic, Finney-Smith and his family of athletes decided to host two giveaways in one day.
As fans lined up for turkeys, Finney-Smith’s mother, a former basketball player, reflected on a tough past which included caring for six children while living in a public housing community.
“I was one of these people a few years ago trying to get a turkey or two. I have six kids, five of them played sports and four of them went to college and graduated, and two of them got their masters,” said Desiree Finney-Henderson, a physically-fit grandmother of six.
“When you raise the kids and they actually turn out the way you prayed for them to turn out, that is a blessing,” said Finney-Henderson.
In a drive-up giveaway at the City of Life Worship Center in Norfolk, cars, sometimes with representatives from multiple families inside, pulled up for a socially-safe giveaway that included butterball turkeys, autographed T-shirts, and gift cards for all the Thanksgiving trimmings.
Finney-Smith was proud to contribute to residents, many of whom live not far from the basketball courts he frequented as a child.
“I made it to the NBA, so it’s only right that I give back to the community that helped me,” said Finney- Smith, who is in his fourth year with the Mavericks.
The giveaway was a double-double of sorts. Hours later, Finney fans in Portsmouth picked up their butterball turkeys, gift cards, and autographed T-shirts.
Fans from both cities say the year of the pandemic has been tough.
A contractor named Vernon pulled up in a company van bearing his name.
“Between jobs [during the pandemic, it’s been tough] stuff like that, but I’m doing OK. I got a free turkey. I’m going home to get ready for Thanksgiving,” said Vernon as he pulled off with a wide grin on his face.
The giveaway is a Finney family tradition but the pandemic has taken some of the warmth out of the event.
“Due to COVID, we have to keep people in their cars but everybody is doing a good job of staying safe,” said Finney-Smith.
Safety is top of mind for Finney fans. Many in line for the free turkeys said fewer loved ones will be around the dinner table for Thanksgiving 2020.
The head coach of “Team Finney” also has a safety game plan. Mom, Finney-Henderson, will do all the cooking and serving.
“We gotta keep Dorian safe so we gotta make sure everybody washes their hands and I’m serving everybody’s food,” said Finney-Henderson.
Finney-Smith returns to Dallas after Thanksgiving to begin pre-season conditioning.
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