MILWAUKEE - Milwaukee Bucks forward Khris Middleton is playing a different role this holiday season: Santa.
"You know, during this pandemic, I know it’s been extremely tough on a lot of people," said Middleton. "I think this year, I think it’s, you know, really, really important for myself and hopefully other people around this world, this country to find ways to give back."
And give back Middleton did. At LaFollette School in Milwaukee, there were coats, hats and gloves galore.
"It gets cold out here, and a coat is a necessity to have, especially for kids that want to go outside and play, and that need to go to school," said Middleton.
Middleton teamed up with UnitedHealthcare to give out around 200 coats and hats as part of his "12 Days of Khrismas" holiday initiative.
"It was an idea just to find ways to give back," said Middleton. "It’s something I’m passionate about, to help the community and just find different ways to affect different people’s lives in a positive way."
"Every winter, it’s always a need, and we do go through these things every year, so this is really a blessing for us to have this opportunity," said Marny Donalson-Gamble, principal.
The kids got their coats in a drive-thru setting. Students with perfect attendance were first in line to meet the All-Star, but with COVID-19 restrictions, the event was done a little differently.
"Felt different," said Middleton. "I mean, in the past when I’ve done these coat drives for different type of events, you’re able to have that one-on-one engagement moment with the kids, with whoever, by giving them hugs, high fives. Now you literally have to stay six feet apart.
Nevertheless, it was still an exciting time for students and their families.
"It means a lot because it means coming out and getting involved, you know, seeing the kids," said Maurice Griffin, relative of a student. "That means a lot that they’re doing this, and I thank them for that."
Middleton is no stranger to giving back. He’s done countless amounts of charity work around Milwaukee. In 2019, he received the December NBACares Community Assist Award.
"Our community behind us are important people," said Middleton. "I feel like a lot of times they’re forgotten about. There’s no reason we should be able to try to provide that for other families, for other people."
Middleton has more community service events planned which include helping NICU nurses, Milwaukee bus drivers, small businesses and essential workers.
"Those are the people that, you know, during this pandemic, we still need them to keep this country, to keep this community running," said Middleton.