Covid-19Magazine Exclusive

76ers with the assist

The National Basketball Association (NBA) season, shortened by COVID-19, resumes this Thursday. However, the employees of the Ray & Joan Kroc Corps Community Center in Camden, N.J., have been ready for a while. They’re representing the hometown Philadelphia 76ers by wearing donated face masks.

Kroc employees have been wearing 100 face masks from NovaCare Rehabilitation and the Sixers, who return to the court on Aug. 1. The blue and red face masks are emblazed with the team’s traditional “PHILA” logo.

NovaCare and the Sixers are donating 10,000 masks overall to areas of need in Philadelphia and Camden, where the NBA team is headquartered.

In partnership with the Sixers Youth Foundation, the masks are being donated to a host of community organizations, which were pre-selected based on need and their history with the foundation and NovaCare. The groups include food banks, school districts, and other health and social service organizations.

“These are communities in need that really don’t have easy access to masks,” said Katie O’Reilly, the chief marketing officer for the Sixers. “Our foundation spends the bulk of its work in the city of Philadelphia and Camden, so they have a great understanding of that. We wanted to help, and obviously so did NovaCare.”

Desron Dorset, the team’s vice president of business development, told SACONNECTS magazine that The Salvation Army was an easy choice.

“The Salvation Army works tirelessly to serve those who need it most. When deciding where the mask donations would make the biggest impact, the 76ers and NovaCare immediately identified The Salvation Army as the perfect recipient,” Dorset said.

Benjamin Ovadia, the resource development manager for the Camden Kroc Center, said the facility has so far received 100 masks.

“They’re nice,” Ovadia said. “They’re cloth, they’re reusable, and we’ve certainly been using them. They’re very distinctive.

“We’re keeping them for employees,” Ovadia said, explaining that the Kroc Center normally has 130 employees. “We have a fairly large PPE need. To the extent we have them, and a client might need them, that’s a possibility, but the first round was to go to the staff.”

Officials at the Ray & Joan Kroc Corps Community Center in Philadelphia said they have not yet received any face masks.

Face masks are mandatory in Philadelphia for people outside in public areas to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

“We are proud to collaborate with our more than 30-year partner, the Sixers, to provide masks in the communities we serve to promote health, safety, and well-being,” said Dan Bradley, NovaCare Rehabilitation president.

by Robert Mitchell

images provided by PHILADELPHIA 76ERS