Hoop stars pass out warm coats and new toys for Christmas

Story by John Iwasaki / Photos by Chris Huber, Morris Franklin, and Reed Slattery

When his two growing sons lacked warm coats to wear in cold weather, Marshall Jones opted for the layered look.

Tre Simmons distributes warm coats at his second-annual coat giveaway in Seattle. (Photo by Chris Huber)

"I'd have to improvise," Jones says. "You wear Under Armour,™ a T-shirt, a sweater, and another sweater over that, and a light jacket over that. That's an alternative to not having a good coat."

But Marshawn, 10, and Marquise, 6, won’t be sporting five layers this winter in Seattle. Two days before Christmas, the boys each received a warm coat in a distribution sponsored by pro basketball player Tre Simmons.

The second-annual coat giveaway was a partnership between Simmons, World Vision's U.S. Programs, and Burlington Coat Factory.

On the same day he flew home to Seattle from Europe, where he plays guard for a team in the Czech Republic, Simmons passed out coats to children inside the Rotary Boys and Girls Club gym.

Marshall Jones stands with sons Marshawn (left) and Marquise (right), who each received new coats. (Photo by Chris Huber)

"I feel it's the right thing to do," he says. "Lots of kids are in need. They don't have money, and I'm fortunate to be able to help them."

For Solandré Rolax and her four children – sons Bacardi and Honour, daughters R'Queen and Sodonré, all between age 12 and 2 – the giveaway came at a perfect time. "It's very helpful to our community," she says. "It's getting very cold. They really need them now."

The pre-Christmas distribution was one of several involving pro basketball players with Northwest roots who partnered with World Vision to brighten the holidays for 1,350 children in the U.S.

Seattle native Jamal Crawford of the Los Angeles Clippers and Isaiah Thomas of the Phoenix Suns sponsored their annual holiday toy giveaways, Crawford in the L.A. area and Thomas in Phoenix and in his hometown of Tacoma, Washington. Portland native Terrence Jones did a similar distribution in Houston, where he plays for the Rockets.

Children also received sports balls donated by Baden at all distributions.

Isaiah Thomas of the Phoenix Suns smiles after handing out toys in Arizona. (Photo by Morris Franklin)

"I actually get excited about doing it," Simmons says, because of "the expression on [children's] faces."

Fourth-grader Marshawn and first-grader Marquise each chose black coats with green stripes. The boys also received caps and gloves.

"Funds are extremely limited, especially at Christmas," Jones says, watching his boys play in the gym. "I drive for a living, and I'm trying to pinch pennies. This event helped me out a whole bunch."

The hardworking father says he especially wants his boys to stay warm and dry for health reasons: "The biggest thing is, I don't want them to get sick. The coats really help out. It fills a need. It's not a want; it's a need."

Jamal Crawford of the Los Angeles Clippers poses with fans at his toy giveaway in California. (Photo by Reed Slattery)