Stephen Curry knows just how much of an impact a small gesture of kindness can have on someone.
"Coming through college, and being in the world of basketball, things weren't really going my way," the three-time NBA champion with the Golden States Warriors tells PEOPLE. "But I had so many people that picked up the phone to call me, just to encourage me, give me that little boost of confidence to keep me on the path that I was on. People didn't have to do that along the way. They had nothing to gain from it."
Inspired by those memories, Curry recently set out to make a difference for those who've worked to better their communities during the coronavirus pandemic for a new mini-series called, A Gift of Joy.
"I think the time we've all been in, since the pandemic, has highlighted a lot of issues, and the sense of urgency around stepping up and helping people in need across the board," Curry explains. "There are so many different things people are going through and all different circumstances. Some of that has been accelerated because of COVID."
The first episode of the four-part series, which debuts on Curry's YouTube channel Thursday, highlights a volunteer at Homies Empowerment organization, a group in Oakland, California, that focuses on youth and community development. The following episodes will continue to shine a light on those who are helping others, despite going through their own difficulties during the outbreak.
"I think people need to see joy, optimism and positivity right now with all that is going on in our society," Curry says of the series, which is presented by e-commerce company, Rakuten.
"I'm hoping that this is not only a series that will be emotional and be inspiring but will hopefully have a kind of a 'pass it on' effect, for other people to find ways, big and small, to help the people around them they know are going through tough times," he adds.
In addition to recognizing the efforts of the volunteers, Curry — along with his wife, Ayesha Curry, WNBA Champion Sue Bird and actress Storm Reid — gave back to them to help with whatever struggles they are facing at home. At one point, one volunteer is gifted $10,000 to help pay their rent, Curry says.
"The emotion that came out from handing a check to somebody — you see tears, and you see them not really know how to express their gratitude, but you know that it's a flood of emotions from what they've been through, and seeing that somebody is looking out for them," he recalls of the moment.
"I think that, in this world that we live in, it's not always something that's at the forefront of people's minds," Curry says. "And that is huge. We all need a village behind us, we all need support."
The remaining three episodes of A Gift of Joy will be posted to YouTube over the next few weeks going into December.
Curry — who will be making his return to the court when the NBA starts the 2020-2021 season around Christmas — says the series was also special to him because he got to work on it with his wife.
"It's exciting, we feed off each other," he says. "It was a part of our upbringing that to make sure [giving] was an importance and priority. And we've found our own unique and authentic way to do it ourselves. Now we can leverage each other and bounce off each other, and she has amazing ideas all the time."
"We have a good balance in that respect. She dreams big and it's really inspiring," Curry continues. "It's pretty surreal at the level of impact that we can have and that we're hopefully going to have in the future. So this Gift of Joy series is another step in that mission."
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