Via the Orlando Magic:
As the school year winds down, the Blessings in a Backpack program will take a brief hiatus. However, the program was a huge success because of Magic All-Star Dwight Howard, school staff and Magic volunteers. Through their collective efforts the program assisted students at Lake Como and Kaley Elementary. The Blessings in a Backpack program is designed to provide food and nutrition to children on weekends when school is not in session so come Monday they return ready to learn. Each week, the Magic staff through the Magic Volunteer Program (MVP) would fill backpacks to go home with hundreds of students for the weekend.
“Studies show that children who do not have enough to eat have a difficult time staying focused,” said Magic Vice President of Community Relations/Government Affairs Linda Landman Gonzalez. “Thanks to Dwight’s generosity and through the Magic Volunteer Program, these students had nutritional choices on the weekend and came to school on Monday ready to learn.”
“The Blessings in a Backpack program allowed our students to put learning first and taken hunger out of the equation,” said Lake Como Elementary Guidance Counselor Sandy Glaize. “Any program or intervention that mitigates the devastating effects of hunger on children is invaluable to the community. Dwight Howard and the Magic’s generous contribution of funds and volunteer time has made that possible for our Lake Como students. Since the program began in 2008, the Magic’s contribution has provided over 50,000 weekend meals to our students.”
Magic volunteers stuffed backpacks twice a week during the school year for the students. The Blessings in a Backpack program at Lake Como and Kaley Elementary became a reality due to the generous support of Howard, who donated $25,000 to this project as part of winning the 2009-10 Rich and Helen DeVos Community Enrichment Award. Each year, the Orlando Magic honors a player who has dedicated his efforts off-the-court for the purpose of enhancing others’ lives at the Orlando Magic Youth Foundation Black Tie and Tennies Gala. In addition to receiving the award, the player is granted $50,000 from the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation to donate to the charity of his choice. Howard donated the other $25,000 to BETA Center in December.