Reggie Jackson’s DETermined To Assist foundation to hold event in Detroit

AUBURN HILLS, MI - MARCH 15: Reggie Jackson
AUBURN HILLS, MI - MARCH 15: Reggie Jackson /

Detroit Pistons’ guard Reggie Jackson’s DETermined To Assist foundation will be holding an event with Pistons players, world-class cuisine, fine wine, auctions and more.

Reggie Jackson‘s DETermined To Assist foundation is set to hold a Pistons and Plates charity event on September 22nd at Detroit’s Westin Book Cadillac hotel, benefiting underprivileged schools in the city. The event is a small plates affair, complete with fine wine, a cocktail reception, a silent and live auction and the attendance of Jackson’s Detroit Pistons teammates.

The major point of emphasis for the foundation is to bring Literacy Lounges to Detroit’s Title 1 schools, especially those in areas of the city which have fewer services at their disposal.

I spoke to Austin Hearn, the foundation’s executive director, about the Literacy Lounges and the foundation’s mission.

"“Think of them like Extreme Makeover Library Edition. What we do is completely transform the library of a Title 1 school. Sometimes schools we partner with don’t have libraries, so we utilize an abandoned area within the school and make a library.”"

These aren’t used or hand-me-down books, passed on from other libraries or sources when they’ve outlived their usefulness either. Hearn went on to describe the goal of Literacy Lounges.

"“The way we brand these Literacy Lounges internally is what we call a reading oasis. A fun and safe place for children to read books that are current and new and that they actually want to read. These aren’t books that have been on the shelves for 10-15 years, they’re new updated books that children actually have a desire to read. Brand new bookshelves, brand new furniture, a thousand age-appropriate books for the children. We do wall wraps and wall murals and all types of wall decor that our foundation brings. Reggie makes quite an appearance on these walls as well.”"

Related Story: Two Pistons make ESPN's top 75 list

So far the foundation has installed these lounges at two schools. The first was built in March of this year at Bow Elementary, and the next was a month later at Thurgood Marshall Elementary. DETermined To Assist has big plans for more schools in the future.

"“We have five more sponsored for 2017 to complete this year. Beyond that we have three more next year because we’ve received additional support from sponsors to do that as well. The goal is to do five in 2017 but depending on Reggie’s schedule that may be three or four. By the end of next year we could have 10-plus literacy lounges complete.”"

DETermined To Assist is also instrumental in matchmaking between schools and corporations. They facilitate in aiding companies to support and sponsor schools they already have affiliations with, or are looking to develop affiliations with.

Hearn laid out how they do this.

"“When we have corporate sponsors who look to partner with us for these rooms, we provide them a list of Title 1 schools that they can choose from to partner with for the lounges. It’s one of the benefits of sponsoring these literacy lounges because often times we have corporate sponsors who already have partnerships with some of these schools or already have affiliations with some of these schools.”"

For the inaugural Pistons and Plates event a year ago, there was great turnout among Jackson’s Detroit Pistons teammates. Andre Drummond, Tobias Harris, Stanley Johnson, Boban Marjanovic, Ish Smith, Aron Baynes, Henry Ellenson, and Beno Udrih were all in attendance. There’s no assurance at this time of which Detroit Pistons will make appearances this year, but Hearn expects a great turnout.

"“We’re expecting really great support from Reggie’s teammates, coaches, and the Detroit Pistons themselves. We made sure to do this event at a time when the players are in market so they’d have an opportunity to attend, before practice and the season get started.”"

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Pistons and Plates comes in the form of the live and silent auctions.

"“For the live auctions, those are often the jerseys of the players in attendance. So whether it’s Andre, obviously Reggie, other guys in attendance, we auction off their jerseys and they sign them on the spot, take pictures with those who won the item. Often times in the live auction we also do unique packages. This year we’re doing a game of Knockout with Reggie. For our silent auctions we have everything from Kate Spade purses, signed pictures and sports memorabilia. Last year we had a handful of signed Muhammed Ali gloves.”"

An interesting twist on the live auction is that attendance is not necessary to bid or win items. Bids can be placed online and items awarded to online competitors.

Invitations have been sent out to representatives of both current schools and future schools to attend the event, and Jackson has a particular invitee he’s hoping can attend.

Hearn tells the story:

"“Reggie has a phenomenal story with one of the kids that he met at a literacy lounge a few months ago. This child that really took a liking to Reggie during the lounge, named Donovan, was shot while walking to school one day and actually lost his eye. So in his 6 or 7 years of life he’s really been through quite a lot. So he and Reggie throughout the day were inseparable. Reggie took a liking to him, he took a liking to Reggie. So our team is looking into having Donovan come and be a special guest of Reggie.”"

Here’s hoping Donovan can attend Reggie Jackson’s Pistons and Plates.

Next: Pistons officially sign Dwight Buycks to a two-way contract

The festivities kick off at 6:30 p.m. on September 22nd with a cocktail reception and silent auction. Tickets start at $350 each and there are varying packages available.