This Fall, the Philadelphia Reign may not be playing basketball, but the team's work in Philadelphia communities is still going strong.
Last weekend, Head Coach Brandon Millwood led the Reign staff in hosting the Philadelphia Reign's First Annual Back-to-School Book Bag Giveaway in Nicetown's Stenton Park. This project held special importance for Millwood, who is now the Senior Dean at KIPP West Philadelphia Elementary Academy (KWPEA). "I remember being one of those students who didn't have the best school supplies when the school year started," Millwood said. "Now working in the education field for ten years, I understand the extreme need for support in the inner city." The location for this giveaway was no coincidence, either. Nicetown is the area Millwood was born and raised.
Taking into consideration the economic impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on families and working people all over the city, the Philadelphia Reign staff were not sure what to expect when they began to ask around for donations to purchase supplies for the drive. But this small-scale project they had envisioned quickly evolved into something much bigger when a post on the team's Instagram attracted more attention than Millwood and the rest of his team had anticipated.
In less than a week's time, Coach Millwood received over $800 in donations from members of the Philadelphia community and beyond. "I received so many donations that I was almost brought to tears," Millwood said. "To see the love and support that family, friends, and strangers had for us was amazing." With these donations, the team was able to purchase and prepare one hundred back packs filled with school supplies.
On August 22, the day of the giveaway, Millwood and fellow staff members Derrick Robinson (Director of Basketball Operations), Vince Simmons (Community Liaison), and player Brittany Hrynko set up in Stenton Park. With just a couple of tables and the one hundred back packs on display, the team waited to see if anyone would show up. Sure enough, and with the help of Millwood's mother flagging down passersby, every single book bag was handed out to families and their students who needed them in less than two hours. "It was amazing to set up our book bag giveaway right across the street from my old house," Millwood said. "I also loved hearing the young people saying that they attend the same schools that I attended growing up."
Thanks to the incredible community support the team received in such a short amount of time and the outpouring of gratitude from the Nicetown residents who showed up at the drive, the Philadelphia Reign has committed to growing the event to a much larger scale next year.