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Pacers Bring Smiles, Toys to Students at IPS 44

by Scott Agness | @ScottAgness

August 14, 2013

Smiles were aplenty Wednesday afternoon at Riverside School #44 – and for good reason.

Just as a new school year got underway, every student at the Indianapolis Public School received a new toy thanks to the Pacers and Fever, and in partnership with JAKKS Pacific. Co-founder Stephen Berman is a close friend of Pacers owner Herb Simon and this was all made possible because of their generosity.

Photo Gallery: Toy Giveaway at IPS School 44 »

“Anytime you can give back to the community with the Indiana Pacers it’s something we cherish,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. “When we have situations like today where it involves toys and young children, and putting smiles on the faces of those kids, it’s definitely a special day.”

The 1,000 toys that IPS School 44 received through its association with the Indiana Members Credit Union was just a small sample of the toys being distributed this summer. In total, more than 20,000 toys will be donated to children of Central Indiana families. And to date, the Pacers and Fever have donated over 150,000 toys over the last five years. These groups have included kids that needed a boost at Christmas, victims of the Henryville tornado and children of National Guard members serving in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

“I think are absolutely loving it,” said Principal Kirshawndra Davis. “I kept it a secret from them until this morning and when I made the announcement, they were so excited. They love to see Boomer and the Pacers. And IMCU (Indiana Members Credit Union) has worked with the Pacers for the past two years, through my time as principal, and they always have something exciting for the kids to come into the school year for.”

Among those on hand for the announcement and distribution were Boomer, Vogel, and George Hill, who’s a product of IPS schools.

“It feels good to have a basketball player here that plays on the Indiana Pacers,” said fifth grader Davae Owens. “I didn’t know [Hill] was that tall!”

Added Lance Carson, who’s also in the fifth grade: “I am pretty excited to have George Hill and the Pacers coming to our school to give us toys and take pictures with us. I think it’s pretty neat because we get to get toys at this time of the year and we get to see cheerleaders and Boomer as well.”

The Pacers are not only about putting a quality product on the court and winning, but also serving the community. Wednesday’s distribution of toys to children from kindergarten all the way up to the sixth grade was just one of many examples throughout the year.

“To put a smile on the face of a child is one of the greatest things anyone could ever do,” Simon said in a statement. “We are very grateful to Stephen and all the great folks at JAKKS Pacific for this opportunity.”

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