PALMETTO -- The excited screams of 150 children reverberated throughout the gym at the Boys and Girls Club on 10th Street West Tuesday afternoon.
It was music to the ears of John Baker -- aka, "Spoken Reasons."
The 23-year-old entertainer, Bradenton native and Boys and Girls Club alum had returned to Manatee County to make Thanksgiving Day brighter for those youngsters and their families.
They were going to get turkeys with all the trimmings, as well as gift cards and prizes, all paid for out of his own pocket.
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"There were people I looked up to -- Peter Warrick, Fabian Washington -- who always came home and gave back to the community," said Baker, referencing the former NFL players. "Me, doing something a little different as far as acting and doing stand-up comedy, I wanted to come back do something on a different scale and put my own stamp on it."
The 2007 Southeast High School graduate managed to do just that.
Baker kept the kids laughing and led them through some call-and-response exercises as well as short songs with him on the keyboard.
"The 'Wow' factor was through the roof," said club director Willie Cooper, who knew Baker at the Ninth Street Boys and Girls Club. "We always read about our kids and what they've done that's not so good. For him to come back, someone who's done something positive, trying to help our kids, that's great."
Raven Eldridge and Donna Ruch-Sola were impressed.
"He's a big Internet star, now he's here and I appreciate that," said Eldridge, 14.
"He's an inspiration," said Ruch-Sola, 13.
Aaliyah Louissaint had a different take.
"He's funny," the 11-year-old said.
Baker, who makes his movie debut next April in "The Heat," a comedy starring Sandra Bullock, promised to be back again.
"I want to do this every year as I progress in my career," he said. "Faith, consistency and hard work are three things you need to get to your destination. That's what I'm here for -- to let them know how far that can take you and my way of sharing a piece of my success."
Vin Mannix, local columnist, can be reached at 941-745-7055. Twitter: @vinmannix