By Wave Staff and Wire Reports
LOS ANGELES — Two-time NBA Finals MVP and new Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard announced a donation Aug. 20 of 1 million backpacks for every student in the Moreno Valley, Inglewood and Los Angeles school districts.
Leonard made the initial announcement at his former school, Cloverdale Elementary School in Moreno Valley.
“My goal this year is to make a meaningful contribution both on and off the court,” Leonard said in a statement released by the Clippers. “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.”
The donation is being made by Leonard in conjunction with the L.A. Clippers Foundation and the nonprofit Baby2Baby. According to the Clippers, the backpacks will be made available to every student in the Moreno Valley, Inglewood and Los Angeles unified school districts.
After making the initial announcement at Cloverdale, Leonard traveled to South Los Angeles to spread the news at 107th Street Elementary School, where he was joined by Baby2Baby “ambassadors” Zooey Deschanel, Busy Philipps and Nicole Richie.
“We are overwhelmed with gratitude to the Clippers and Kawhi Leonard for this record-breaking donation to every student in Los Angeles Unified School District and beyond,” said Kelly Sawyer Patricof and Norah Weinstein, co-presidents of baby2Baby. “Baby2Baby serves hundreds of thousands of children in poverty in Los Angeles, and backpacks are consistently one of the most highly-requested items for the school-aged children in our program.
“For many of these children who are homeless or in foster care, backpacks not only hold their school books and homework, but also all of their personal belongings. If they have a backpack at all, it is often falling apart, and when a child does not have one, they resort to using a grocery or trash bag. The Clippers’ donation will make these children feel the pride they deserve and give them the confidence they need to start the school year off on the right foot.”
Clippers officials said the donation is the largest ever offered to the LAUSD, available to every student in the nation’s second-largest school district.
“There are a lot of families throughout the L.A. region working hard every day to earn everything in their lives,” said Gillian Zucker, the Clippers’ president of business operations. “This program is our effort to extend a hand to make heading back to school a little easier.”
Leonard was born in Los Angeles and grew up in Moreno Valley. He signed with the Clippers in July, shortly after winning an NBA title with the Toronto Raptors.
This article originally appeared in the Wave Newspapers.