ST. THOMAS & ST. CROIX, U.S.V.I. (Jan. 23, 2020) – Emerald Gems Foundation, Inc., founders Milt and Shalaun Newton will donate 150 basketballs to be distributed among the U.S. Virgin Islands public schools later this month. Milt is also a native of St. Thomas and Assistant General Manager of the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks. Emerald Gems has partnered with the Department of Education, the Office of Senator Bobby Thomas and the Department of Sports, Park and Recreation to identify the schools, and host the donation events in St. Croix on Wednesday, January 29th and St. Thomas on Thursday, January 30th.
Additional partners in funding the effort include, former NBA basketball player and artist Desmond Mason, Lauren Gillian with Connor Sports Flooring and Ade Richards of A&R Transportation, while logistical assistance is being provided by Delvin Duggins with the Office of Senator Thomas and Jenny Matthias with Ivanna Eudora Kean High School.
“Shalaun and I are extremely excited for the opportunity to serve the youth of the Virgin Islands,” said Milt Newton, co-founder of Emerald Gems Foundation, Inc. “It is our mission to use our foundation as a vehicle to provide positive learning experiences both athletically and educationally for our youth. Our intent is to continually seek out, engage and partner with other like-minded individuals and entities, both locally and nationwide, toward the advancement of our youth.”
“We are grateful for the many people involved in assisting us in this project to provide basketballs for our VI public schools and look forward to many other opportunities to give back to the territory,” Newton added.
Senator Athneil “Bobby” Thomas stated that as a former collegiate athlete, he is extremely honored to be partnering with Emerald Gems and the Department of Sports, Parks & Recreation on this basketball donation initiative. “As such,” said Senator Thomas, “I find it prudent to support projects like this, along with the recent Milton M. Newton Basketball Tournament, which serves to shine a spotlight on youth sporting activities, improve collaboration amongst the youth, and stimulate more interest in the game.”
For the past five years, Emerald Gems has conducted Annual U.S.V.I. Youth Basketball Camps at Ivanna Eudora Kean High School each August. Every year, nearly 100 campers ages 8-17 attend and are trained by current NBA personnel. Campers have also received basketball shoes, jerseys, shorts, socks, basketballs and backpacks. The annual basketball camp is provided free of charge to all who participate.
“Keeping students active, engaged and learning is top priority for the VI Department of Education (VIDE) and your partnership with the VIDE helps us to achieve this goal,” said Commissioner Racquel Berry-Benjamin, Virgin Islands Department of Education. “On behalf of students and families of Virgin Islands Public Schools, we thank you and the sponsors who collaborated to make this happen.”
In the near future, Emerald Gems has plans to be instrumental in revitalizing selected U.S.V.I. recreational parks, starting with the Milton M. Newton Recreational Park, and launching the first NBA Math Hoops Program (www.nbamathhoops.org) in the U.S.V.I. Emerald Gems will also offer their second Education & Basketball Enrichment Program Trip for a selected group of U.S.V.I. high school student athletes to travel to Wisconsin to learn about running a NBA franchise.
“Having worked with Milt Newton and the wonderful people of the Emerald Gems organization for the past three years, I have seen firsthand their commitment to the children of the Virgin Islands,” said Commissioner Calvert White, Virgin Islands Department of Sports, Park and Recreation. “We are extremely excited that they have again decided to give to our children, only confirming their unrelenting support of our community. I look forward to continuing this partnership, as these are the types of collaborations that allow us to best serve our people.”
EMERALD GEMS BASKETBALL DONATION EVENTS & PRESS CONFERENCE
For St. Croix Public Schools:
Wednesday, January 29, 2020
Time: 11:30 – 12pm
Location: Educational Complex High School
For St. Thomas Public Schools:
Thursday, January 30, 2020
Time: 9:00 – 9:30am
Location: Ivanna Eudora Kean High School
About Emerald Gems Foundation, Inc
Emerald Gems Foundation, Inc. is a 501c3 non-profit, founded in 2015 by St. Thomas, U.S.V.I. native Milt Newton, and his wife Shalaun. Since its inception, the organization has served nearly 450 U.S. Virgin Islands children through our Annual Youth Basketball Camps, Education and Basketball Enrichment Program, as well as our Coaching Seminars.
Our mission is to enhance the lives of the youth in the U.S. Virgin Islands by providing positive experiences and life-long learning opportunities utilizing basketball as a means.