Chris Finch coached the Minnesota Timberwolves to a 107-97 win over Sacramento on Wednesday, a game that ended at about 9:30 p.m.
He and the Wolves had another game at 7 p.m. Thursday against San Antonio. The NBA in general is all-consuming. Back-to-backs are even more so. You jump from completing one game to instantly preparing for another, with little to no time to catch your breath in between.
Yet there was Finch at 7 a.m. Thursday packing food at Second Harvest Heartland in Brooklyn Park on Give to the Max Day — the state’s big giving holiday.
“We’ve got to raise awareness, we’ve got to raise money, we’ve got to help the half a million Minnesotans who have hunger insecurities, food insecurities,” Finch said. “Giving of our time in any way possible. Money is one thing, you can always give money, but when you make the emotional investment of your time and your attention, that’s when you really become a part of something.”
Finch was announced as a new member of the major food bank’s board last month; he’s now fully immersed in the organization. The Wolves have four home games in six days this week, from Monday to Saturday. Yet Finch had just as busy of a week with Second Harvest Heartland.
He had a board orientation on Monday, came out to the Brooklyn Park facility to pack food with his entire coaching staff Tuesday, took part in a development committee meeting Wednesday and was back at the facility to help kick off the organization’s “Pack to the Max” event Thursday.
“We’re jumping in with both feet,” he said. “I don’t want to be just a figurehead.”
According to Second Harvest Heartland’s website, 2harvest.org — where people can also donate to the cause — 1 in 10 local people, including 1 in 7 children, are experiencing hunger. Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in early 2019, Second Harvest Heartland said it has distributed more than 175 million pounds of food. Yet chief executive officer Allison O’Toole noted the community’s issues with hunger persist.
“I am always really hoping for the day that I can say things have changed and gotten better. We’re kind of right back where we were a year ago,” she said. “We see consumer prices skyrocketing, we see COVID surging again, families are having trouble meeting their budgets. We have a few tough years ahead of us. Even in our wonderful community, hunger is hitting the communities of color at twice the rates to their white neighbors, and so we have a lot of work to do.”
Finch said everyone knows there are those out there who are hungry and hurting but noted that until you get up close and personal with the issue, you may not realize the impact. It’s why he’s so motivated to make a difference.
O’Toole said the microphone Finch can provide is invaluable to an organization. She called his participation a “game changer.”
“He can amplify awareness in a way that we can’t on our own, so this is a game changer for not only Second Harvest Heartland, but the entire community and the entire hunger relief network. He lifts us all up,” said O’Toole, who was friends with Finch in college. “He’s the real deal, and he’s connected to our mission. You can tell, not only by his actions, but his words.”