DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- NC Central basketball coach LeVelle Moton stresses the importance of giving back to the community -- he's known for his backpack giveaways and now, he's making sure frontline workers know they are appreciated even a year after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Friday, Moton and his foundation, Velle Cares, teamed with UPS to provide nurses at the WakeMed Brier Creek Emergency Department with 100 meals from Tropical Smoothie Cafe.
"I've been blessed to be around some extraordinary people," Moton said. "Now that I do have a platform, I want to use my platform to be a blessing to everyone else."
Benita Smith is a Nurse Manager at WakeMed and is grateful for Moton's gesture.
"It means a lot," Smith said. "It means that we're not forgotten. We are on the frontlines. My staff are on the frontlines. I praise them every day I come in. They do this every single day. They're interacting with patients more so than I am and literally they're taking care of some of the sickest people that have come through this building.
Smith said it has been a year of uncertainty and constant change. She said the vaccine rollout has eased some of that tension, but she and her staff are still tired, so a day like this makes them feel appreciated.
"It's important for people to understand what we do every day," she said. "Coach Moton and his team, and literally getting out, and there have been others throughout this pandemic that show their appreciation and so we're thankful."
Moton was happy to help.
"It was my way of thanking them," Moton said. "I just appreciate them acknowledging what I'm trying to bring to the table, what my foundation's trying to bring to the table, but I owe them much more than they owe me right now because they've kept myself, my family and my loved ones safe as well."
Moton said he recognizes how important community support is right now as many people -- including his team -- are dealing with mental, physical and emotional stress.
"It's really needed," Moton said. "In particularly our NC Central basketball team, to be honest with you, I should have canceled the season in November or December but selfishly and unselfishly, I wanted our seniors to have a moment. I just know our guys, they're playing basketball right now because it's better than the alternative. They aren't playing to win a championship, you can look in their eyes and tell. Me having to keep them motivated on a day-to-day basis to come to practice that community support that you speak of, we need it as well. If we need it, then I wanted to be a blessing to give it to other people as well."
Moton said he hopes that through his foundation, he will be able to continue providing aid and appreciation to frontline workers through the remainder of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"They're risking their lives every single day, not only fighting it to prevent it from happening, they're coming in risking their lives every single day to keep us safe and sound," Moton said. "In the midst of that, we take it for granted."