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Wizards, Raptors help needy at D.C. Armory

Toronto Raptor forward Pops Mensah Bonsu, a former star at George Washington University, carries donated items at the DC Armory.
Toronto Raptor forward Pops Mensah Bonsu, a former star at George Washington University, carries donated items at the DC Armory. (Hamil R. Harris/The Washington Post)
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Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 3, 2009; 6:39 PM

Members of the Washington Wizards and the Toronto Raptors helped to distribute 26 tractor-trailer loads of food, clothes, personal items and toys to about 10,000 people Thursday during a massive holiday giveway sponsored by the NBA Players' Association and Feed the Children.

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The D.C. Armory was packed with people but orderly through the day, and hundreds of other recipients waited outside the building on East Capitol Street SE. The effort was expected to continue well into the evening.

"It is good to come out and want to give back because God has blessed you, " said Wizards Center Brendon Haywood as he passed out turkeys with Wizards Assistant Coach Wes Unseld Jr.

Tony Sellers, a spokesman for Feed the Children, said the two groups have partnered with the NBA for seven years to give food to needy families.

"Every year we pick one city," Sellers said. "We decided to come to the nation's capital this year because we have a new administration in the White House and a new attitude."

Members of the Raptors joined the campaign, called Miracle in the Nation's Capital, because they were in town for a game with the Wizards on Friday.

The players' association and Feed the Children worked with city agencies to publicize the effort, and recipients were told to report to the armory to pick up a voucher for a grocery cart full of items.

"This is a blessing. I didn't know anything about this until someone knocked on my door last night," said Elizabeth Hugee of Southeast. "It has been rough."

Mayor Adrian Fenty noted that the event occurred on the birthday of Abe Pollin, the Wizards owner who died last week.

"This is the biggest turkey and coat drive that I have ever seen in my life," Fenty said. "What the NBA players' association wanted to do is dedicate this drive to Abe Pollin . . . who spent his entire adult career giving back to this city and people less fortunate."



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