The Missouri Mavericks know that the best Christmas present they could give their fans would be a win tonight against the Laredo Bucks at the Independence Events Center.

The Missouri Mavericks know that the best Christmas present they could give their fans would be a win tonight against the Laredo Bucks at the Independence Events Center.


But they made sure that two needy families had plenty of items under their Christmas trees when they met with Mike Surprise, the community support specialist for Comprehensive Mental Health Services in Independence, Thursday morning.


Instead of carrying sticks and gloves, the Mavericks were carrying a wide variety of brightly wrapped packages for the families they adopted this Christmas season.


Ryan Jardine’s wife, Amanda, worked with Surprise to coordinate the gift exchange, and he was thankful for her help.


“I was pleased to hear that Ryan was back with the team this year,” said Surprise, a former resident of Independence who now lives in Lee’s Summit, “because we worked with Amanda last year, and she did a great job.”


When she wasn’t corralling her infant son, Hudson, Amanda talked about the impact the gift exchange has on the families and her husband’s teammates.


“I think this is something the guys on the team really look forward to,” Amanda said. “It’s really, really special to help needy families at Christmas.


“We get a list of family members from Mike, and the guys go out and do the shopping.”


Each child receives two gifts from their wish list along with some other selected items.


“The Mavericks are great to work with,” Surprise said. “We have one couple with four kids and a single mom with three kids. Thanks to the Mavericks’ generosity, there is going to be something under the Christmas tree for those families.”


Mavericks rookie John-Scott Dickson said the Christmas program brings the meaning of the holiday season into the locker room.


“For young guys like me who aren’t going to be with their families this Christmas, this is great,” Dickson said. “To help somebody who really needs help at Christmas is pretty special.


“I know all the guys have been talking about their gifts and the families and the kids in the family. It kind of lets you know what is really important at this time of the year.”


Ryan Jardine, who will share Christmas with Amanda and Hudson here in Independence, agreed.


“It’s great to give back to the community because this community has done so much for us,” Jardine said while holding Hudson. “What would really be great would be to get these gifts to the families from Comprehensive Mental Health and then give our fans a gift with a win Friday night against Laredo.”