ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Karen Iglesia has been a staple in the Section V basketball community for decades. The retired teacher runs the Primetime Ballers Twitter and Instagram accounts, highlighting the 585’s best basketball players, but uses her platform for so much more.
A few years ago, she started an annual toy drive with the intention of providing Christmas presents to roughly 300 kids in Rochester. Iglesia decided to sponsor families for Thanksgiving this year because the local organizations that usually provide free family meals took a major financial blow during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Iglesia decided she and her family wanted to sponsor ten others before she went through the process of determining how much a turkey, small ham, veggies, juices, and a pan to cook the turkey would be.
“It would cost $70 or $71 to feed a family of four,” Iglesia explained. “I put it out on Twitter if anyone would want to sponsor just one family, then Derek Annechino jumped on it.”
The Aquinas football coach decided sponsoring a family for Thanksgiving would not be enough. He challenged the other football coaches around Section V to do the same, since none of them were competing on the gridiron.
“It’s my favorite holiday with food, football and family, but it’s also about feeling blessed and thankful for what you have, and in this case, helping others,” said Annechino.
The call to action was heard around Section V. Suddenly, coaches from other sports, beginning with Victor basketball head coach Tyler Roberts, sponsored a family. Referees and parents of student athletes also got involved, with Mendon basketball star Jacob Shadders’ mother even offering to cook for a family and deliver the meal. Chris Fox, one of the executives of HOPE Basketball in Rochester helped spread the word as well, reaching out to ten friends to sponsor ten more families.
“Being a part of a community, you try to help out those in need, which is just a general tenant of our society,” said Fox. “I was taught from a very early age at McQuaid Jesuit to give back to the community, which I’m so fortunate to do right now.”
The real driving force, Karen says, has been her student athletes. She offered the opportunity for them to volunteer for service hours, since many do not have the expendable income of their own from their part time jobs.
“They say, ‘Miss Iglesia, we don’t need volunteer hours, we just want to help’ which just shows the kind of kids we have here,” said Iglesia.
Annechino and Iglesia have been working together for the last few months, beginning with round tables at Aquinas over the summer about police-community relations. Annechino explained sports is the great equalizer, but it boils down to making the world a better place, a passion he and Iglesia share.
“Part of the deal with sports is to have our kids grow up to be men and see how people are supposed to treat each other,” said Annechino. “It feels really good anytime you can do something like this to help other people.”
As of Monday night, Primetime Adopt a Family has already sponsored 61 families. Iglesia is accepting both monetary donations and food donations from the list above. If you would like to sponsor a family’s Thanksgiving dinner, direct message Iglesia @PrimetimeBall_ on Twitter, @Primetime585 on Instagram, or email her at email@example.com to arrange payment.