December 14th, 2015 was a big night for some of the city’s smallest athletes. Rising Stars, a non-profit basketball program founded by Paul Savramis, held its first Hearts & Hoops event at Long Island Lutheran High School. Here, Savramis opens up about how the students opened their hearts.
Q: What was the idea behind this inaugural Hearts & Hoops event?
Paul Savramis: We always strive to keep our athletes involved in projects that make their community a better place. The Hearts & Hoops event was an idea that developed watching how well these players worked together on and off the court. We thought, “Imagine what they can do with all of this positive energy…”
Q: And there were some pretty important charities served that night…
Paul Savramis: We were honored and humbled to partner with Meals on Wheels, Operation Gratitude, the Hance Family Foundation, and the Ronald McDonald House for the night.
Q: What is Operation Gratitude?
Paul Savramis: This is a program where students are able to put together care packages and write notes for active-duty soldiers away from home this holiday season. They had the opportunity to talk about how so many of our nation’s heroes might be facing Christmas in a dangerous, foreign land and how these were the brave souls who every day pay the price for our freedom.
Q: What other ways did the kids give back?
Paul Savramis: Our 4th through 8th graders made and decorated 100 cards for seniors, inflated 200 basketballs for underprivileged kids, and helped spread a little holiday cheer by decorating 200 cookies for families staying at the Ronald McDonald House. We also collected over 100 coats which were donated to NY Cares. To say I’m proud of the work these kids invested into this night would be an understatement!