Dorell Wright Saves the Day for Oakland’s Needy

Warriors forward Dorell Wright is saving Thanksgiving in Oakland.

The Golden State player is spending thousands of dollars so the city can put on its 20th annual Thanksgiving dinner and coat drive. The event, which had been canceled due to budget cuts, will serve turkey dinners to at least 2,500 people at the Marriott City Center on Nov. 22, two days before the actual holiday. Festivities will begin at 11 a.m.

“It just so happened they were in trouble,” Wright said. “So we did our best to step in and help. It’s a good thing they do, making sure people have a place to go for Thanksgiving. I wanted to be a part of that and make sure the 20th year was special like it should be.”

Susan Shelton, manager of Oakland’s community housing services, has run the dinner for the last 12 years through the city’s Hunger Program.

She said the event, which annually feeds 2,000 of Oakland’s less fortunate, usually costs about $40,000, raised through various donations from local foundations and residents.

This year, they received about $12,000.

Figuring the dinner would end, Shelton said the plan was to purchase turkeys and give them away in Oakland’s poorer neighborhoods.

But last month she got a call from the D. Wright Way Foundation. Wright wanted to help keep the tradition going.

Free transportation will be provided to the Marriott, and interested diners will receive a free coat. Live entertainment also is on tap.

“I was completely moved and touched by his genuineness in wanting to make sure folks, who otherwise wouldn’t, had a Thanksgiving dinner,” said Shelton, adding that the effort is still soliciting gently used coats. “He saw a need and, despite the uncertain circumstances with his job, still wanted to help. Dorell embodies the spirit of this event.”

¬†Wright’s foundation usually holds a turkey giveaway in whatever city he’s playing in. But despite the NBA lockout costing players paychecks, Wright said he wanted to do something for the community.

He jumped at the chance to resurrect the annual turkey feed when his foundation brought the situation to his attention.

Wright’s contribution not only ensures the 20th anniversary feed will happen. Plans have been made to feed at least 2,500 low-income families, seniors and homeless folks.

Donations are still needed, Shelton said. The hope is to not turn anyone away.

“We assume there will be more people than ever given the state of the economy,” Shelton said.

Checks made payable to the City of Oakland Hunger Program can be sent to the Department of Human Services. Volunteers are still being accepted, as 450 are needed. Wright is also planning to provide T-shirts for volunteers.

Wright said he will attend the dinner.

“It would be easy to just write a check,” said Wright, who lost nearly $600,000 in salary when the Warriors’ first 17 games were canceled by the lockout. “But I’m one of them type of people who want to be there. I want to spend time with the people. Times are rough for a lot of people, so I want to help them have a good time at least one day.”

Marcus Thompson