By Mark F. Gray
Though absent while continuing to rehab from an achilles tendon injury that hasn’t allowed him to play this season, NBA all-star and two time world champion Kevin Durant scored big once again in his hometown. A couple weeks after the release of the critically acclaimed documentary, “Basketball County: In the Water,” for which Durant served as executive producer, the Kevin Durant Charity Foundation helped give residents a temporary helping hand to fill their refrigerators and pantries with food for at least two weeks.
Hundreds of Prince George’s County residents took advantage of the foundation’s food giveaway in Forestville, MD. Vehicles stretched for approximately two miles leading to the Mount Calvary Church parking lot next to Bishop McNamara High School. Through a collaboration with local elected officials and social agencies, local philanthropist, Wanda Durant, the basketball star’s mother, stepped in to help families who are facing a crisis in need in their home community.
“This was us not too long ago,” Wanda Durant told the AFRO. “We have always been a family that understood the importance of giving back and helping others. This is still our community and we are glad to put something back into it.”
In another sign of youthful social consciousness by the high school graduating class of 2020, most of the volunteers who participated in the setup, package distribution, breakdown of the area were seniors of the school. Each vehicle was packed with a closed container of what appeared to be non-perishable items.
“This says a lot about the character of the people of Prince George’s County,” said At-Large County Councilman Calvin Hawkins, who was joined by a group of his fellow elected officials, including his fraternity brothers from Omega Psi Phi. “We are such a diverse County in terms of what people have. This is special to see so many people coming together to help brothers and sisters in need.”
For two hours, during a racially charged weekend around the country and in the District that was marked by confrontations between law enforcement officials and Black protesters, the event seemed to put a temporary bandage on the social wounds that were opened after the George Floyd death in Minneapolis. There were positive interactions between the mostly African American community and the County Police as the social healing was temporarily enforced by all who were attending.
“This underscores how important our relationship with the citizens is to [the Police Department],” said County Police Chief Hank Stawinski. “The pandemic has put an emphasis on us as a Department to be able to handle more public health concerns while remaining to be vigilant when it comes to public safety issues as well.”
Fire Chief Tiffany Green was able to join in the County’s unifying respite in one of few public appearances, since she was minted the first Black woman in her position. Four days after being sworn in as leader of the Fire Department, COVID-19 forced Maryland into stay at home orders and she has been working through the crisis of a lifetime.
“There is nothing that could’ve prepared you for this,” Chief Green said. “You’ve got to hit the ground running, but when you have great leadership from the County Executive’s [Angela Alsobrooks] Office and talented people who make up the force it makes my job a lot easier.”