Ray Allen gives back to local families for Thanksgiving

Ray Allen and his foundation help offer up Thanksgiving help for local families.

MIAMI -- Sherrie Dykes and three of her grandchildren carried bags filled with all the Thanksgiving essentials -- from turkey to pumpkin pie -- on Sunday afternoon at Jose Marti Park.

Dykes, who plans on cooking for her eight grandkids, father, aunt, sisters and cousins, was one of 250 Amigos for Kids families to receive a holiday meal courtesy of Miami Heat guard Ray Allen and the Ray of Hope Foundation.

Event sponsors included Costco, Publix, Coca-Cola refreshments and Metro Signs.

"I think it's great because you have a lot of people in times like it is now -- it's very hard," Dykes said. "It's sharing and caring, and that's the most important thing there is. A lot of people don't know how to share and care. That's the importance of it, and it's great."

Her granddaughter, T'zaria Hill, 9, stood starstruck as Allen took photos with she and her family. Dykes joked that she was going to pass out from excitement.

Hill, who watches games at her grandmother's house, got to attend this summer's championship parade in downtown Miami.

"One thing we always try to get across to people is I'm no different from anyone else," Allen said. "You see me on TV on a regular basis, but we still go through everyday situations.

"Everything that every other parent is dealing with -- it's the same. When you're around parents and kids in the community that's what I want people to understand. We can help and try to make things better because we have the means to do so."

Allen's foundation also holds a giving tree Christmas event where he signs autographs at a local mall while a community center goes through kids' wish lists and buys gifts. Over the summer, he hopes to renovate a computer lab in an inner-city school.

The 17-year veteran has always given back to the community he's played in. He still contributes to other cities such as Seattle and Boston when friends ask for help.

"I think back to my childhood and the things I didn't have and I felt like I was rich even though we weren't financially rich," Allen said. "We always had food to eat. We had some days that were slimmer than others, but my mom and dad made sure to make it happen.

"Now as I'm in the position that I'm in I try to make sure to give back as much as I can because there are so many people that don't have just the basic minimums. Just having food in the pantry. That's a cornerstone of Thanksgiving."

Allen, who will not be home for the holiday as the Heat are on a two-game roadtrip, always prays for the health and happiness of his loved ones.

His impact on both his family and community cannot be understated.

Roger, a young boy wearing a LeBron shirt, shook hands with Allen but was too shy to strike up a conversation with the 10-time All-Star. Instead, he offered a simple yet fitting two-word acknowledgment.

"Thank you."

You can follow Christina De Nicola on Twitter @CDeNicola13 or email her at cdenicola13@gmail.com.