As an NBA great, Carmelo Anthony gets the superstar treatment wherever he goes. But last week, he gave a group of deserving kids the chance to be All-Stars, too.
On Friday, the Carmelo Anthony Foundation partnered with Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment to bring more than 100 underprivileged New York City kids to the 5th annual A Very Melo Christmas event. It was hosted at the AMC Empire movie theater in Times Square and featured a screening of Big, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary.
“I was once in their shoes and looking for hope,” Anthony said about the children. “I wish somebody would’ve taken me to watch a movie when I was a kid.”
The kids were in awe when they saw Anthony come to the theatre. But at this party, they were the stars. On their way into the theater, they walked the red carpet, posed for photos, and stopped for interviews. “They took a picture of me on a red carpet,” said 10-year-old Edgar F. “I was really happy about that.”
Once inside, they munched on popcorn, drank lemonade, and laughed throughout the movie. (In case you haven’t seen it, Big is about a kid who wishes he were a grown up, and then the next day wakes up as an adult!) When the movie was over, they listened to Anthony as he gave a short speech. They took pictures with him, and even got to shake his hand and talk to him. One lucky kid showed off his orange Knicks towel and told his friends, “Carmelo touched this!”
As they left the theater, the children got a goodie bag and two board games — and memories that will last a lifetime.
“Spending time with somebody that comes from where they come from, that’s made something fantastic out of himself, I think will inspire (the children) to stay the course,” said LaToya Williams-Belfort, the director of development for Children of Promise, an organization that assists children who have incarcerated parents.
The kids at the party earned their invitation by writing an essay. The subject: The ways they give back to their communities. The responses were inspiring. One kid wrote about giving away Christmas gifts, while another focused on tutoring her younger sister.
“The goal behind the program is to just recognize and empower kids who are making a difference,” said Asani Swann, the executive director of Anthony’s foundation. “We want to encourage them to do the work they’re doing.”
The kids who got to hang out with Melo have shown that they care about others. On one special day, they got a great reward for their generosity.
Photos: Isaac Green, Blackbody Films LLC