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LISLE, Ill., Aug. 12, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The school year at Holmes Elementary, located in Ypsilanti, Mich., is off to a fast start. Nearly 250 elementary students cheered in surprise today as NASCAR star Aric Almirola arrived in his No. 43 Armour race car to welcome the children back to school. The Back to School surprise was courtesy of Armour, the makers of LunchMakers children's portable meals, savory frozen meatballs and sliced pepperoni.
A photo accompanying this release is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/prs/?pkgid=35139
Before heading to the races at Michigan International Speedway this weekend, Almirola made a surprise visit to the school to share some words of encouragement with the students.
"To see 500 eyes light up as the engine roared and I drove up to the school in the No. 43 Armour Ford, I'm not sure who was more excited, me or the kids," said Almirola. "It's really incredible to partner with Armour to provide support for this school and these students. I wish the best of luck this year to all of my new friends at Holmes."
Almirola also shared in a special snack time hosted by Armour and Kroger. Each student was treated to an apple, Armour SnackMakers portable meal, and bottled water.
"Kroger has always put a premium on the education of our future leaders; therefore, we are excited to partner with Armour, Smithfield Foods, and Aric Almirola and the No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports team to help welcome the students and teachers of Holmes Elementary back for another successful school year," said Brandon Barrow, Consumer Affairs Manager, Kroger Co. of Michigan.
Armour, a brand of Smithfield Foods, launched its partnership with the No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports race team this summer, and is currently hosting a sweepstakes for race fans nationwide. One grand prize winner and three guests will receive a trip to Miami in time for the crowning of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion.
"Armour is thrilled to team up with Kroger, Aric Almirola and the No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports team to welcome these students back to school with this one-of-a-kind experience," said Charles Gitkin, Senior Vice President, Marketing, Smithfield Foods. "These kids have a bright future, and it was a privilege to share in the first week of school and hear about all of their hopes and expectations for the year ahead."
To cap the event, Almirola presented a $10,000 check from Armour to the school's principal, Seth Petty. The donation will be used by the school, a Michigan Department of Education Priority School, to help fund facility improvements and educational resources. Holmes Elementary serves 2nd through 5th grades, and is part of the Ypsilanti Community Schools district.
"We are extremely grateful to Armour for such an exciting day. What an incredible gift for our students, and a memorable way to kick off the school year," said Petty. "This opportunity means so much to the students, and it was an honor to meet and hear the inspiring words from Aric Almirola. On behalf of everyone here at Holmes, I think it's safe to say Armour, Aric Almirola and the No. 43 team just earned a few hundred new fans."
For additional details about Armour products, to enter the sweepstakes, or review its official rules, visit www.armourmeats.com.
With America's favorite frozen meatballs, LunchMakers portable meal kits, and pepperoni products, Armour® is proud to be a trusted brand that provides convenient, delicious and affordable meal options for smart, sensible families since 1867.
About Smithfield Foods
Smithfield Foods is a $15 billion global food company and the world's largest pork processor and hog producer. In the United States, the company is also the leader in numerous packaged meats categories with popular brands including Smithfield®, Eckrich®, Farmland®, Armour®, Cook's®, John Morrell®, Gwaltney®, Nathan's Famous®, Kretschmar®, Margherita®, Curly's®, Carando® and Healthy Ones®. Smithfield Foods is committed to providing good food in a responsible way and maintains robust animal care, community involvement, employee safety, environmental and food safety and quality programs. For more information, visit www.smithfieldfoods.com.
About The Kroger Co. of Michigan
Incorporated in Michigan in 1909 and headquartered in Novi, The Kroger Co. of Michigan includes 19,000 associates, 129 Kroger stores, 64 fuel centers, 103 pharmacies and the Michigan Dairy.
Kroger, one of the world's largest retailers, employs more than 375,000 associates who serve customers in 2,640 supermarkets and multi-department stores in 34 states and the District of Columbia under two dozen local banner names including Kroger, City Market, Dillons, Food 4 Less, Fred Meyer, Fry's, Harris Teeter, Jay C, King Soopers, QFC, Ralphs and Smith's. The company also operates 786 convenience stores, 320 fine jewelry stores, 1,240 supermarket fuel centers and 38 food processing plants in the U.S. Recognized by Forbes as the most generous company in America, Kroger supports hunger relief, breast cancer awareness, the military and their families, and more than 30,000 schools and grassroots organizations. Kroger contributes food and funds equal to 200 million meals a year through more than 80 Feeding America food bank partners. A leader in supplier diversity, Kroger is a proud member of the Billion Dollar Roundtable and the U.S. Hispanic Chamber's Million Dollar Club.
About Richard Petty Motorsports
A performance and marketing driven company, Richard Petty Motorsports, co-owned by NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty and successful business entrepreneur Andrew Murstein, is one of the most recognized brands in all of motorsports. With a history of over 200 wins and business partnerships with national and global leaders, today the race operation fields two teams in competition in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Aric Almirola pilots the famous No. 43 Ford Fusion with primary partners Smithfield Foods, U.S. Air Force, STP and Fresh From Florida, and Sam Hornish Jr. drives the No. 9 machine with primary partners Medallion Bank and Twisted Tea. In addition, Dakoda Armstrong wheels the No. 43 WinField Ford Mustang full-time in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. The team is headquartered in Mooresville, N.C.
The photo is also available via AP PhotoExpress.
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