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Johnson's week begins in spirit of the season: by giving to others

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Nov. 30, 2009) – Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet, will collect an armful of awards later this week as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series wraps up its Champion’s Week Las Vegas on Friday.

But on Monday, it was Johnson and his wife Chandra handing out the awards – nearly $1 million in grants divided among schools in California, North Carolina and Oklahoma. The duo kicked off Champion’s Week in Johnson’s hometown of El Cajon, Calif. Click here for photos from the Johnsons’ first day.

The donations from the Jimmie Johnson Foundation/Lowe’s Toolbox for Education in the amount of $922,000 were made public during ceremonies at Jimmie Johnson’s former elementary school, Crest Elementary, in El Cajon.

In all, 26 schools—11 in the San Diego area—received grants from the foundation from the 80 institutions applying for awards in science and technology, accelerated reading, outdoor classrooms and athletic facilities and other programs. For a complete list of 2009 grant recipients and projects, please visit the Jimmie Johnson Foundation Web site.

“This is what the foundation is all about, being able to give back to communities in need,” said Johnson, the first driver to win four consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup titles.

Chandra Johnson, co-founder of the foundation, added, “I am particularly excited about the projects in Oklahoma as this is our first opportunity to give back in my home state.”

The assembly was the first of three events the champion attended Monday in the Golden State. He also journeyed a few miles north to the U.S. Marine Corps Camp Pendleton, where he interacted with service personnel and their families and enjoyed a concert by the rock band Saving Abel.

“I’m so proud of our sport and the way we support the men and women that support our country,” said Johnson. “Anything we can do to give back to our armed service men and women and thank them for what they do; I’m all for it.”

The day ended with a fan fest at the Lowe’s Home Improvement Store in the San Diego suburb of Santee.