by Nate Derosena

Through the sport of basketball, one local Bronx native has taken the initiative to uplift his community in a variety of ways. A couple of weekends ago, Dexter Gardiner, who is well known in his community for his annual youth foundation initiatives, was doing just what he is known for. With the holiday season upon us, Gardiner organized his foundation’s 6th Annual Gardiner Memorial Turkey Giveaway in his neighborhood at the newly renovated St. James Park, and saw to it that families enjoyed 600 turkeys, as well as all of the delicious Thanksgiving fixings to go along with it.

The Gardiner Foundation is known for its annual basketball tournament, held every year in St. James Park in the Kingsbridge section of The Bronx, NY. This past summer, the foundation hosted its 10th annual tournament, which is hosted in memory of six of Gardiner’s family members, whose lives were lost in a terrible car accident on The Bronx River Parkway. Through the tournament, the foundation has donated over 1,500 backpacks filled with school supplies and has given away 32 college scholarships to students from within the community, who in some cases would not have had the chance to pay for college without assistance from the Gardiner Foundation.

As much as he has already given, however, there’s always been room for more in Gardiner’s eyes.

With the tournament being a positive influence in the community, he then went on to start the annual turkey giveaway, where he has since given away 1,500 turkeys and meals out to community members who otherwise would not have enjoyed any type of Thanksgiving meal.

Of course, the efforts of Gardiner have not gone unnoticed.

Many have seen what Gardiner has done for his community and are inspired to not only help him with his community outreach, but also to do the same within their own communities. Jeff Korek, a friend of Gardiner and a lawyer of Gersowitz, Libo & Korek, P.C. has joined forces with Gardiner in his efforts to uplift the community. Through Korek, Lawyertime.com has been working with the Gardiner Family since 2009.

Korek isn’t the only one inspired by Gardiner’s efforts.

This year, Gardiner had some extra assistance at the turkey giveaway. Two high school basketball teams from Nassau County came all the way to The Bronx to help make the day of different families and members of the community, and spread some holiday cheer. The girls’ basketball team from Oyster Bay High and the girls’ basketball team from Freeport High, along with head coaches Sandy Rossen and Meredith Jones (head coaches of Oyster Bay and Freeport, respectively) came out to show support and do their small part to help make strangers’ Thanksgiving a little better.

Volunteers and sponsors of the Gardiner foundation, such as Norah Grady, Sylvie Gaeckler, and Jeff Korek and his family were also in attendance and assisted in serving food to families. The Chief of Staff of Councilman Fernando Cabrera’s office, Greg Faulkner, was also in attendance. A representative from Councilman Cabrera’s office handed out citations to Dexter Gardiner and some of the volunteers, as well as to some of the sponsors of the foundation.

Dexter Gardiner and his team made their way into the local churches and housing projects to help those in need. Several hundred people were lined up around St. James Park to check in with the volunteers and collect their turkeys from the back of Gardiner’s rented U-Haul truck. Gardiner built the foundation upon his family’s legacy of helping people who are in need, and carries to people who have suffered similar losses by leading community outreach initiatives just like this turkey giveaway. Through hoops, Gardiner continues to dish out clutch assists to his community in hopes that his efforts will be the catalyst to help spread love and unity in much needed times.