Drew Gooden may be a veteran power forward with the Milwaukee Bucks of the NBA, but he hasn't forgotten his roots growing up in Richmond.
Gooden, a 1999 El Cerrito High grad and star of the Gauchos team that won the Northern California Division III championship, is holding a first-ever toy drive through his nonprofit DG Foundation to benefit up to 500 children in Richmond.
The toy drive, being held in partnership with the city, was first announced by Gooden on his Twitter account early last week and again later in the week in a news release.
"The recipients of the toy drive are already accounted for and will be distributed amongst children in the inner city of Richmond," says the release. "Drew is very passionate about giving back, and there's no better place than home to do so."
"There was no doubt when choosing who these gifts would go to," Gooden says in the release. "I grew up in the Richmond community, and I want my foundation to be an outlet for the inner city youth."
Toys will be distributed at a Dec. 23 event at the Booker T. Anderson Community Center, where Gooden spent a lot of time as a child learning basketball. Already on board with support, among others, are Coldstone Creamery and Detroit Lions running back Jahvid Best, a Cal standout who played prep football at Salesian High in Richmond.
But more support is needed to make the event a success.
Gooden is asking for the community's help with donations
"The foundation can still use donations for the cause, since it was newly established just this year," the release notes. "With the help of supporters, we can maximize the amount of presents distributed to the city of Richmond and spread positive holiday cheer."
One donation location that has already been arranged is the gymnasium at El Cerrito High on Dec. 15, when Gooden is sponsoring a high school basketball tournament of top teams from Northern and Southern California.
HONORING SUSIE KO: A prayer grotto in memory of teacher and resident Susie Ko, who was killed in her Hercules home Oct. 18, will be dedicated at 10:30 a.m. Sunday at St. Patrick School, 907 Seventh St. in Rodeo.
Ko was a former teacher at the school, and a former St. Patrick student, Casey O'Neal, was looking for an Eagle Scout project.
"We thought it was perfect timing and requested that he build a prayer grotto to be placed at the entrance of our school doors," writes Loretta Airoldi from the school. "The grotto turned out beautiful" and includes a water fountain.
WEST COUNTY NOTES: Professional basketball returns in Richmond this weekend when the Bay Area Matrix take on the San Francisco Rumble in an American Basketball Association game at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Richmond PAL gymnasium at 2200 Macdonald Ave. (doors open at 6:30 p.m.).
The Matrix, the reigning ABA division champions for two years, are moving their home games to the RPAL gym this year after the Richmond Rockets did not make it to a second season. The team hosts the Stockton Ports on Sunday. Learn more at bayareamatrixbasketball.com.
Enjoy light refreshments and healthy appetizers, and if you can, bring a donation to the annual collection of new coats and toys for students at Verde Elementary School and the RYSE Youth Center in Richmond. For details or to RSVP, call 510-374-3231.