Kawhi Leonard is back home and already giving back.
The Los Angeles Clippers forward gave out more than 1 million backpacks to students returning to three schools in L.A. this week, including his hometown school in Moreno Valley Unified. Students at Inglewood Unified and Los Angeles Unified school districts also received backpacks in partnership with the L.A. Clippers Foundation and community non-profit Baby2Baby.
“My goal this year is to make a meaningful contribution both on and off the court. This felt like the right way to get started. It was important to me to make this announcement in my hometown of Moreno Valley at my former Elementary School, but the benefits this program will have across all of Los Angeles makes today even more special,” Leonard said in a statement.
It was the first day of school for students and not only were they greeted with the gift of a Clippers backpack, they got to meet an NBA superstar who was in literally the same place they stood two decades ago.
The non-profit provides children up to age 12 in poverty with diapers, clothing and basic necessities. The gift was intended to reduce stress on low-income families as children head back to school.
It is the largest gift in the history of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) impacting every student, according to the Clippers. Last year, 80 percent of K-12 students in the district were eligible for free or reduced lunch, an indicator of low-income families or those who are homeless. Families are constantly struggling with money choices along the lines of paying for rent or putting food on the table. Buying back-to-school items falls low on the list of needs and many students go without a true backpack, instead using a plastic bag.
In a statement, co-president Kelly Sawyer Patricof said backpacks are one of the most highly requested items for children in the program.
Leonard was joined at the press conference by actresses Zooey Deschanel, Busy Philipps and Nicole Richie, all of whom are Baby2Baby ambassadors. Co-presidents Patricof and Norah Weinstein also joined the group at 107th Street Elementary School.
Kawhi Leonard, Zooey Deschanel and Nicole Richie (Busy Philipps not pictured) pic.twitter.com/BGMcuIAb7f— Jovan Buha (@jovanbuha) August 20, 2019
Gillian Zucker, president of business operations for the Clippers, said in a statement the team appreciates Leonard and Baby2Baby’s ambassador network who “walk the walk when it comes to using their platforms and voices to provide real solutions to impact the everyday lives of the people around us.”
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