Orlando Magic’s Dwight Howard to Surprise Students at Lake Como Elementary
Howard pledges $25K to Blessings in a Backpack program which provides kids at Lake Como Elementary with food to eat over the weekend

Orlando Magic Marketing Intern Julien Nogues, along with a Lake Como student, volunteers time on Thursday, February 19 to stuff backpacks for the Blessings in a Backpack program. Orlando Magic volunteers spent months stuffing backpacks each week for the students. Dwight Howard pledged $25,000 to make the program possible at Lake Como Elementary.
WHAT: IT’S A SURPRISE…Orlando Magic All-Star Dwight Howard to meet Lake Como Elementary School students. They will find out who the “Superman” is behind their Blessings in a Backpack program. Howard will show up in person to share the good news.

Howard, school staff and Magic volunteers have made Blessings in a Backpack a big success at Lake Como Elementary. Blessings in a Backpack is a program designed to provide food and nutrition to children on weekends when school is not in session so that on Monday they return ready to learn. After meeting the students, Howard and Magic volunteers will fill backpacks to go home with hundreds of students for the weekend.

Magic volunteers have been stuffing backpacks for the past few months for the students. The Blessings in a Backpack program at Lake Como became a reality due to the generous support of Howard, who donated $25,000 to this project as part of winning the 2007-2008 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 Fund Black Tie and Tennies Charity 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 build the Parramore Kidz Zone Teen Shack at the Downtown Orlando Recreation Complex, which opened in January 2009.

WHO: Dwight Howard, Lake Como Principal Carmen Carrasco-Thompson, Lake Como Guidance Counselor and Coordinator Sandra Glaize, Blessings in a Backpack Co-founder Stan Curtis, USA Harvest Chairman and volunteers who have helped these children succeed in school.

WHEN: Thursday, February 26, 2009, 1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

WHERE: Lake Como Elementary School, 901 S. Bumby Ave., Orlando, 32806

**All media is invited to film/photograph the festivities.

About Blessings in a Backpack

Blessings in a Backpack is a results oriented program. This unique program is designed to feed elementary school children whose families qualify for the federal free and reduced meal program and may not have any or enough food on the weekends. Better test scores, improved reading skills, positive behavior, improved health and increased attendance have all been attributed to the success of this program.

$80 feeds a child in the program for an entire school year. Following a donation, a school is chosen and a local grocer partners with the program to provide food for meals in the backpacks. Every Friday, students receive their backpacks with food that requires little to no preparation. They return with their backpacks on Monday ready to learn.

Blessings in a Backpack is currently feeding over 10,000 children in Kentucky, Indiana, Florida, Michigan, Missouri, California and New York. The program is a hybrid of private sector funding and public partnerships carried out in public schools.

About The Orlando Magic

Orlando’s NBA franchise since 1989, the Magic’s mission is to be world champions on and off the court, delivering legendary moments every step of the way. On the court, Orlando has won three division championships (1995, 1996, 2008), had four 50-plus win seasons, and won the Eastern Conference title in 1995. Off the court, on an annual basis the Orlando Magic gives more than $2 million to the local community by way of sponsorships of events, donated tickets, autographed merchandise, scholarships and grants. Orlando Magic community relations programs impact an estimated 75,000 kids each year, while a Magic staff-wide initiative provides more than 4,000 volunteer hours annually. In addition, over the last 19 years nearly $14 million has been distributed to local non-profit community organizations via The Orlando Magic Youth Fund (OMYF) that serve at risk and disadvantaged youth. Ticket highlights for 2008-09 include: 7,569 seats priced $25 or under per game; a $27 lower bowl ticket; and tickets priced at $10 per game. For ticket information log on to orlandomagic.com or call 407-89-MAGIC.

Through the National Basketball Association’s NBA CARES program, the league, players and teams will raise and contribute $100 million for charity, donate more than 1 million hours of hands-on volunteer service to communities worldwide, and build more than 100 places where kids can learn and play over the next five years.

The Orlando Magic is also the developer of the new downtown Events Center which will compete to host major national events, concerts and family shows. Opening in October 2010, the facility will be operated by the City of Orlando and owned by the Central Florida Community.