The New York Knicks legend took his talents back to the Big Apple this week to provide meals for the underprivileged and teach about responsible gambling.
Fresh off the release of his autobiography, The Last Enforcer, the iconic Knicks power forward brought Oak Out Hunger to a familiar place: New York City.
The mission is simple, according to an official release: “providing food and education to underprivileged communities and raising awareness about the need for a socially responsible approach to sports betting.”
Oak Out Hunger, housed under The Charles Oakley Foundation, served food at the Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen on Friday, the largest soup kitchen in NYC. The effort is expected to provide over 60,000 meals.
While Oakley was well known for handing out knuckle sandwiches on the court, his mission on the hardwood was always to protect his teammates. Well regarded as a cook since his early NBA days and a tough food critic at any and every restaurant, Oakley is pairing his culinary bona fides with his passion for supporting and empowering communities.
Launched in 2020, Oak Out Hunger is as appreciated as ever as lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic affect those who already faced significant challenges.
“Even though it feels as if the worst of the pandemic is behind us, we are still seeing record numbers of New Yorkers visiting us for a hot meal or a week’s worth of groceries,” said Reverend Dr. Anna S. Pearson, Executive Director of Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen in New York City. “We are incredibly grateful to these foundations for selecting our program as a site for the 2022 “Oak Out Hunger” campaign, and for all the generous individuals like Charles Oakley who allow us to continue our essential work.”
The Oak Out Hunger tour is sponsored by Entain Foundation US and Wager Score.
And conquering hunger is just one of many goals.
Oak’s Big Assist
When Charles Oakley was a teenager in Cleveland, a stick-up during a basement game of dice led to the murder of the looter.
This moment motivated Oakley to put his head further into hoops, inspiring an iconic career. While Oakley has no issue with enjoying a casino or playing cards amongst friends, he’s well aware that there’s a right and wrong way to do anything.
For all of March, The Charles Oakley Foundation and Entain Foundation US will use National Problem Gambling Awareness Month to not just supply food to the impoverished but also provide education to communities regarding better betting habits through the platform he co-founded.
“We’re asking folks to Bet Smart and Give Back,” Oakley said in a statement. “My Wager Score ™ is the future of sports betting because it creates financial safety for players and helps create [a] positive impact. We want folks to see that they can take fair play into their own hands and be empowered by getting their score at MyWagerScore.com.”
As major sports embrace gambling, it’s important to educate others — especially the impoverished or at-risk groups — on how to be responsible bettors. The message coming from someone as respected as Oakley speaks volumes, proving even more powerful when coming with a warm meal.
When 2022 NBA All-Star Weekend rolled into Cleveland last month, he gave back to his hometown community by hosting a pep rally at John Hay High School and preparing 1,000 meals for the Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry (h/t FOX 8 News). The tour arrived in Cleveland from Los Angeles for Super Bowl LVI.
Once Oakley’s work in New York is done, next up are Philadelphia’s Lutheran Settlement House on March 25 and Nashville’s Room in the Inn on April 1.
The Last Enforcer plans on having the last word on hunger.