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Former NBA player lends helping hand to Charlotte homeless
Alexis Ajinca donates essentials in tent city
Published Saturday, December 19, 2020 10:00 pm
by Ashley Mahoney

Alexis and Courtney Ajinca, pictured with their children, teamed up with Block Love Charlotte to provide essential resources to the housing insecure living in a makeshift tent community near Center City.

Alexis and Courtney Ajinca have a heart for the homeless.

The couple teamed up Saturday with Block Love Charlotte, a local nonprofit providing essentials and educational resources to those facing housing insecurity, to serve around 200 meals, as well as other winter items to those living in tent city near Uptown. Meals were catered by LuLu’s Maryland-Style Chicken and Seafood. The couple also purchased several blankets from Belk. The retailer donated overnight shipping in order to get the blankets to the Ajincas on time.

“We just love always giving back,” said Courtney, a Charlotte native and celebrity event planner and interior designer. “Driving past tent city in Charlotte is extremely heartbreaking. Especially being from Charlotte and knowing [tent city] has not always been there and seeing how that population continues to grow is extremely heartbreaking, especially around the holidays and now that the weather is extremely cold, it is really tugged on both of our heart strings and made us want to help and give back in some type of way.”

Alexis, who spent nine years as an NBA player, including two seasons in Charlotte, said helping the homeless has always been a calling. Even while they lived in New Orleans when Alexis’ career took them there, they were active in providing necessary supplies like food, blankets and water to the homeless.

“It’s hard when you are in that situation to get out of it,” Ajinca said. “If we can help them in any type of way [we want to] help them get back on their feet.”

Spaces like tent city have grown throughout 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic as the economic repercussions of the pandemic have cost people their jobs and ultimately their housing. Housing insecurity also impacts those seeking to escape domestic violence, but who do not have the financial resources to acquire somewhere to stay. A lack of housing for many in the Charlotte region continues to become a humanitarian crisis. The 2020 Charlotte-Mecklenburg Housing Instability & Homelessness Report indicated 2,782 people were homeless as of July 31.

Ultimately, the Ajincas intend to build a homeless shelter to serve Charlotte’s community in transition.

“That is years out, but if we can do our part now a little bit, that is all that matters to us,” Courtney said.

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