On various Thursday afternoons throughout the current school year, volunteers from the Orlando Magic’s corporate office have arrived at Lake Como Elementary on the city’s south-side to fill more than 200 backpacks with an assortment of food.
The knapsacks of nourishment ensure that the children who receive them won’t be going hungry over the weekend.
Each Friday afternoon, the bag packs, filled with such goodies as applesauce, macaroni and cheese, juice boxes and oatmeal, are distributed to students in an event that is highly anticipated by the children and incredibly rewarding for all involved.
“Seeing some of the situations that our children deal with,” explains school guidance counselor Sandy Glaze. “And how they come out so strong, and how they are so resilient. If this program can be a little piece in that path to resiliency, I am very appreciative to be a part of that.”
The Magic’s Dwight Howard pledged $25,000 of the DeVos Community Enrichment Award he received from the Rich and Helen DeVos Foundation for his efforts off the court. The funds have been used to purchase all of the food each week to fill the backpacks.
“It’s about giving,” explained Magic center Dwight Howard, after speaking to an auditorium filled with overly joyful students. “The kids just make everything better. Just like when I see my son filled with joy, it’s the same way when I see these kids. To put a smile on their face, it means a lot.”
Howard was recently named the recipient of the NBA Community Assist Award for January in recognition of his outstanding efforts in the community and for his ongoing philanthropic and charitable work. The league presents the NBA Community Assist Award monthly to recognize players for their charitable efforts. The award honors the NBA player who best reflects the passion that the league and its players have for giving back to their community.