Before he made it big, Raymond Felton made a promise: He vowed to help others if he made the NBA.
Drafted by the Bobcats in 2005, the 6-foot-1-inch guard has kept his word. For the third straight year, Felton passed out food boxes Sunday to hundreds of Charlotte-area families facing Christmas in need.
Standing in a bitting wind, he smiled, signed autographs and posed for pictures while distributing boxes stuffed with food and toiletries. Felton remained on the line until the final family was served.
“I love to give back to the community,” he told Qcitymetro.com afterward. “It means a lot to me.”
Felton co-sponsored the event with the Charlotte Bobcats, Feed the Children, Seigle Avenue Partners, the Charlotte Housing Authority and Second Harvest Food Bank. But it was Felton, organizers said, who provided the financial muscle.
“Raymond is such a hometown favorite,” Kay Carter, executive director of Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina, said. “He really cares about people in need. His dad is out here with him. They are such giving people. We really appreciate them.”
The distribution was held at Seigle Point, a new mixed-income development within easy sight of the Charlotte skyline. The development recently opened on the grounds where the crime-ridden Piedmont Courts housing project once stood.
The organizations involved in the distribution earlier had identified 400 families eligible for vouchers. On Sunday, those families waited in line patiently for their turn to be served. Some of Felton’s youngest fans could not resist asking the NBA star to autograph their boxes.
As the economy has soured, food banks and local charities have reported a surge of families in need. Most have seen a 30-40 percent increase, said Carter, whose agency works with 650 other agencies in 19 counties.
“The fuel increases really kicked it off,” she said. “You’ve got layoffs, people’s hours being reduced, foreclosures. People who were working before are starting to feel the pinch.”