When Philadelphia rapper and South Philly favorite Meek Mill decided he wanted to give back to his city, he came to the mayor’s office. Tumar Alexander, the Mayor’s Deputy Director of Legislative and Community Affairs, connected the dots and put Mill in the capable hands of one of South Philly’s biggest community heroes – Anton Moore and his philanthropic organization, Unity in the Community. Days later and they were handing out free turkeys and facilitating a coat drive at Vare Recreation Center, 2600 Morris St., Thanksgiving Eve.
“I’m a firm believer in the scripture that says ‘To whom much is given, much is required,’” 186th District state Rep. Jordan Harris, whose offices reside at 1300 Point Breeze Ave., explained. “This is a great way to spend the day before Thanksgiving.”
The spirit of giving and taking care of one’s fellow man was in the air in the gymnasium of the Grays Ferry community space, as 200 turkeys were handed out, provided by Meek Mill himself, and coats were dispensed to prepare needful neighbors for the impending cold winter.
“I’m always excited when community organizations take the lead,” Harris added. “Government can’t do it all, and when entertainers and community leaders [take the lead], it strengthens and builds community.”
South Philly wasn’t the only stop for Mill on a compact charitable Thanksgiving tour of the city, but his first annual “Dreamchasers Thanksgiving” was a big hit with his rabid fanbase. Admirers ranging from ages 6 to 60 were eager to take his photograph, pose with him and welcome him into their neighborhood space.
The tour had three stops: starting on Nov. 26 at the Martin Luther King Jr. Adult Center and then the Hank Gathers Community Center, both situated in North Philly, before Meek and Moore staged last week’s Vare finale.
Residents anywhere near the 2000 block of Snyder Avenue already know that Moore’s been giving back to the community for years. He stressed that the holiday season isn’t and shouldn’t be the only time of year to think about giving.
“It’s always good throughout the year but especially during the holidays,” the Unity in the Community president and founder said. “We lean on one another to better the community.”
Meek and Moore have worked together in the past, but mostly when Moore was deeper into hip-hop and less of a community hero.
“Back in 2008, I was the first person to put Meek on national TV on BET’s Rap City,” Moore explained. “Meek [also] performed at our 3rd Annual Unity in the Community Block Party free of charge for the South Philadelphia community [in 2010].”
No doubt Meek Mill and Anton Moore’s partnership through the Mayor’s office was one that benefited hundreds of Philadelphians, but events like these were happening all over the city last week. Thanksgiving is a holiday for which it seems most Philadelphians refuse to let neighbors and friends go without a satisfying and spirited meal.
Sondra Williams, the captain of the 1600 block of South Marston Street, rattled off a list of similar events in the neighborhood that transpired in the previous few nights. Tasker Elite teamed up with Universal Audenried Charter High School, 3301 Tasker St., for a Thanksgiving dinner that fed over 500 people Nov. 25; The Refuge Temple of Jesus Christ, 1629-37 S. 28th St., gave away 100 turkeys alongside gift baskets Nov. 26; andSt. Gabriel School, 2917 Dickinson St., was the hub of a gift card and turkey giveaway Nov. 27.
Alexander was on hand to make sure everything went smoothly as nearly 600 attendees looked over coats and received turkeys in tote bags.
“For me, I grew up in North Philly, I’m born and raised in this city,” he said. “So it’s a blessing to be able to give back. The organizers and the volunteers here are full of the spirit of giving.”
Moore’s been spearheading giving in South Philly for quite some time now, and his mother and sister knew he was special when he was young.
“He always had a good heart, always trying to give back to the community,” his sister, Danea, who calls the 2000 block of Snyder Avenue her home, said. “He’s one of a kind.”
His mother, Danine, is especially proud of when her son got to meet President Barack Obama. Moore was managing DJ Diamond Kuts, who had been asked to DJ for Obama during a “Get Out to Vote Rally” in ’10. She was also quick to admit that the season of giving is here and now: “It’s for the giving – it’s important to think about the less fortunate during the holidays.”
The Moores planned to spend their Thanksgiving with family on the 2300 block of Pierce Street.
The event had been hyped by Hot 107.9, whose offices are on City Line Avenue in Bala Cynwyd. Tyree Gallimore, a North Philly resident and Promotions Coordinator for the station, was there to support the cause.
“We’re supporting the cause and Unity in the Community,” the 28-year-old said. “We’ve been running commercials, having our jocks talk about it on air and just getting the word out.”
Moore was happy the night went off without a hitch and said “the event was a success,” and that he and his charitable efforts seek to “celebrate peace in the community” and “encourage and inspire each other.”
He also hopes to continue to work in this specific area of Grays Ferry, especially with Alexander and Harris.
“Tumar and state Rep. Harris are major supporters of the Unity in the Community, and I’m looking forward to working with the two of them in ’14,” Moore said, adding his enthusiasm for assisting the latter’s re-election campaign. ■
Contact Staff Writer Bill Chenevert at firstname.lastname@example.org or ext. 117. Comment at southphillyreview.com/news/features.