By Mageida Sopon
You see professional sports athletes on TV and you cheer for them when they play for your city or favorite team. It’s not every day you get to see them in person because of their strict work schedule, but they mean the world to their fans and work very hard. Some of them even donate their time and fortune to those who need it most. I have been working as an intern at the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation for the last month or so and I have loved every second. Not only have I met amazing people and work in a team that allows me to grow and develop, but I have also seen the work of people who are willing to give time and donations to those less privileged. Dwight Howard’s 3-Point Santa on December 10 allowed for me to see that more than ever. If you don’t know who Dwight Howards is, he is a center for the Houston Rockets. The 3-Point Santa project he hosted through his D12 Foundation provided children from Child Advocates, a local non-profit organization dedicated to breaking the cycle of child abuse, a wish, a need, and a really great read. Before Dwight arrived, we were given the opportunity to interact with the children that attended. They walked in with their cute, little 3-Point Santa shirts and received some yummy food from Chick-fil-a. I was able to sit and chat with a group of kids while they ate. They were kids who love life, telling their stories and sharing what they like doing at school. I read to them for a little while, but the best moment for me was when the oldest in my group, he was about 8 years old, asked me if he could read to the group. Everyone else was about 4-5 years old. We were reading ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ before we saw Dwight, and when the kids saw him come in they stood up and started giving him high-fives and chanting his name. After that, Dwight read them “The Night before Christmas,” joked with them and made them feel welcome and able to enjoy a few moments without thinking about their situations. He then walked around and greeted the children. He hung out with them and helped them make their frames for the photos they took with him, choose their book selections, and help pick out their toys and clothes from Target and JC Penney. It was amazing to see someone who is always in the public eye, make himself available to children who don’t have stability and who are less fortunate. To see Dwight sit down with these children and share with them the ability to keep dreaming and going, but most importantly the fact that someone cares and to continue having hope, was heartwarming. These children are what’s most important to me and I pray that they have successful lives in the future. Unfortunately, I was not allowed to take pictures with the kiddos for privacy reasons, but I did snag a picture with the man of the hour, Dwight! He is an amazing individual and I think is it is safe to say that he made a couple of new friends that night!