Local students help Hornets star with charity drive

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (holding UberSchool sign) stands with Marvin Mayor Pro Tem Christina Frazzini (thumbs in pockets) and kids from the Marvin Ridge cluster who helped collect school supplies. Photo courtesy  of Christina Frazzini

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (holding UberSchool sign) stands with Marvin Mayor Pro Tem Christina Frazzini (thumbs in pockets) and kids from the Marvin Ridge cluster who helped collect school supplies. Photo courtesy of Christina Frazzini

MARVIN – With the help of Marvin Ridge students, Charlotte Hornets forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was able to collect thousands of school supplies for kids in need before the first day of classes began this week.
Kidd-Gilchrist teamed with students and many others in the greater Charlotte area, including the ride-sharing company, Uber, to collect school supplies for A Child’s Place (ACP), a nonprofit that fights to end child homelessness in the area.
Christina Frazzini, mayor pro tem of the Village of Marvin, was among people the NBA star visited after her kids and their friends spent the week collecting supplies. The group of students, all of whom attend schools in the Marvin Ridge cluster, bought backpacks and other supplies to donate to the cause while shopping for their own back-to-school supplies.
Kidd-Gilchrist used a donated Uber car on Aug. 21 to make his rounds. He collected supplies and visited those who had participated in the drive, including the kids from Marvin Ridge.
Kidd-Gilchrist collected over 2,500 school supplies from 20 or more participating groups in the Charlotte area and dropped them off at ACP. Emily Ransone, philanthropy associate with ACP, said that the supplies collected during this drive alone would be able to keep 56 students supplied for six months.
“I think that support from someone like Michael is huge,” Ransone said. “To have someone who is not only willing to collect items but to add that personal touch and hang out with the kids.”
Frazzini said she was happy her kids got to meet with an NBA star and added Kidd-Gilchrist’s humble demeanor breaks stereotypes of NBA players she has heard on television.
“He came with his whole entourage, and that included his mom, Cindy,” Frazzini said. “He was just so cooperative with whatever the kids wanted to do.”
Frazzini has two children in the Marvin Ridge cluster, a son in high school and a daughter in middle school, and is also hosting a foreign exchange student from Italy named Luca Di Bartolomeo. Di Bartolomeo arrived two days before Kidd-Gilchrist’s visit, and is still “floored” by the experience.
Di Bartolomeo was already a Hornets’ fan before arriving in the United States and owned gear from the team, which Kidd-Gilchrist autographed. Afterward, Di Bartolomeo challenged Kidd-Gilchrist to a friendly game of one-on-one.
Frazzini said it was so hot that day that she tried to temper Di Bartolomeo’s expectations. She was surprised when Kidd-Gilchrist accepted the challenge.
Recalling the experience, Di Bartolomeo said he still can’t believe his luck. He said he has always been a huge fan of Michael Jordan and was excited to be moving somewhere so close to a team he owned. His experience with an NBA player like Kidd-Gilchrist is a childhood dream come true, he said.
“I could not believe how friendly and sociable he was,” Di Bartolomeo said. “When you think of an NBA player, you think they have a lot of money and are too busy to participate in charities, but he was so nice.”
The following week, Kidd-Gilchrist remembered his interaction with Di Bartolomeo. He said he was happy to have met an international fan like Di Bartolomeo and spoke fondly of how basketball bridged a culture gap. Although Di Bartolomeo speaks English, Kidd-Gilchrist said it took a basketball game to bring them both out of their shells.
“I went into the house and he wasn’t speaking any English to me,” Kidd-Gilchrist said. “Once we started playing, we started talking trash. Then we were just hooping.”
The kids ultimately presented Kidd-Gilchrist with several backpacks filled with school supplies for him to bring back to ACP.
This was not Kidd-Gilchrist’s first time working with ACP. In 2013, Kidd-Gilchrist lent his name to a Papa John’s special for one week every month from February to May. A Child’s Place received $2 for every “MKG Special” purchased during that time.
Kidd-Gilchrist, who is affectionately called MKG by fans, said he’s passionate about helping programs like ACP because of his own experience.
“I want to see everyone have the right amount of success and I just love to give back,” said Kidd-Gilchrist. “I didn’t have much growing up and I just want to give back to other kids.”
A Child’s Place works to supply kids in 34 of the highest-need schools in the Charlotte area. To learn more about their work and how you can help, visit www.achildsplace.org.
“Michael has not only given us the physical items we need but also hopefully made other groups aware of A Child’s Place and the issue of homelessness right here in our community,” said Ransone. “He’s always been a big fan of us and we’re a big fan of his.”

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