YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Several charitable organizations came together Wednesday evening to treat more than 300 children to a show many have never seen before.
Fr. Greg Maturi, pastor at St. Dominic’s Church on the South Side, organized the night, giving hundreds of kids free tickets to see the Harlem Globetrotters, a WRTA shuttle ride to the Covelli Centre and some free pizza before the show at the St. Dominic Parish Center.
The children came from St. Dominic’s, the Mill Creek Children’s Center, the Youngstown Boys and Girls Club, and Big Brothers and Big Sisters of the Mahoning Valley.
“My definition of happiness is unselfish giving and that’s what we try to do and hopefully the people will try to pass it on, pay it forward,” said Fr. Tim O’Neill of the Difference Makers, which is based at St. Patrick Church in Hubbard.
The organization teamed up with the United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley to help make the night happen.
“We’ve got kids as young as 4 and 5, all the way up to their teenage years. Most of the kids I’ve talked to haven’t even seen the Globetrotters. Some don’t even know what it is,” said Bob Hannon, executive director of the United Way.
Shirmon Hicks of Youngstown was among those in attendance.
“I’m grateful. I’ve never really seen the Globetrotters, so I’m kind of happy,” he said.
Siblings Krisjai and Robert Anderson didn’t know they were going, but something their grandmother did tipped them off that Wednesday night would be a good night.
“She got me and my brother brand new clothes and I was wondering, we have to be going somewhere or something,” Krisjai said.
All the kids agreed they were excited about the dunks.
“Probably the dunks, the slam dunks. I love dunks,” Shirmon said.
“When they dunk, I want to see the glass shatter on the backboard,” Krisjai said.
“And I want to see somebody stand on somebody’s shoulders and dunk it and then go through the hoop with the ball,” Robert said.
Adults shared in the excitement too.
“I want to cry I’m so excited,” said Victoria Allen, events coordinator for St. Dom’s. But for her, it was about more than the show. She said she is excited it all came together on the South Side.
“Here, where our children live, where they go to school. Why can’t they have fun here? It’s not all about the negative all the time. We want some fun things, and this is wonderful,” Allen said.
She already is planning an Easter egg hunt, also on the South Side.