Five Boys & Girls Clubs Honored for Making a Positive Difference

From California to Germany, middle school-age youth transform communities through service

Friday, March 18, 2011 8:30 am EDT

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"We are pleased to recognize each of these five Clubs with a Regional Torch Club Award to recognize their extraordinary service and leadership"

ATLANTA--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Pre-teens at Boys & Girls Clubs around the world are leading efforts to positively impact others and serve in their communities. Through a character and leadership program called Torch Club, Boys & Girls Club youth ages 11-13 initiate and plan community service projects and civic engagement activities throughout the school year. Now, five of these Torch Clubs, out of 1,600 clubs worldwide, received recognition for their outstanding efforts with an inaugural award from Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) and Staples Foundation for Learning, a private foundation created by Staples, Inc.

The following Clubs have each been named a Regional Torch Club Award winner and will receive $5,000 from Staples Foundation to benefit their Torch Club.

  • The Boys & Girls Club of Coachella Valley, La Quinta Unit in La Quinta, Calif., hosted a birthday party to celebrate their hometown’s founding, planned an inclusion event for children with special needs and launched an anti-bullying campaign at the Club.
  • The Boys & Girls Club of La Plata County, in Durango, Colo., advocated to make their hometown smoke-free, fundraised for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, picked up trash around the area and painted a mural to promote a healthy community.
  • The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Lower Naugatuck Valley, Main Unit in Shelton, Conn., coordinated a week of events to raise money for a local girl with cancer, planned a kids’ fitness event and fundraiser, organized an Adopt-A-Family campaign during the holidays and established a tutoring program for younger Club members.
  • The Boys & Girls Clubs of Springfield, Musgrave Unit in Springfield, Mo., collected stuffed animals for disaster victims, raised money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, supported Salvation Army during the holidays and adopted a cave, a street and a stream for clean-up in their hometown.
  • The Ramstein Youth Programs at the Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany, initiated an online pen pal program to connect children of military families, taught others about the benefits of healthy eating, creating an anti-bullying educational video and participated in an event for families of deployed soldiers.

In addition to the cash prize, Staples Foundation sponsored two Torch Club youth members and the advisor from each Club to participate in a BGCA youth leadership conference in Orlando, Fla., March 3-6. The all-expenses-paid trip included attending the conference’s education sessions, being recognized at an award ceremony and taking part in a community service project to beautify an Orlando community in need. The Torch Club pre-teens sanded and painted picnic tables at an elementary school alongside 500 Boys & Girls Club teens. The members and their advisors capped off the weekend with a trip to Disney World® to celebrate their hard work.

“We are pleased to recognize each of these five Clubs with a Regional Torch Club Award to recognize their extraordinary service and leadership,” said Kelvin Davis, senior director of character and citizenship for BGCA. “It’s important to provide opportunities for youth to develop character and leadership skills, especially at the critical middle school age. Torch Club is a small group program available to Boys & Girls Clubs that creates these opportunities and fosters a sense of ownership in the process, so these young people become role models for their peers and grow into conscientious members of society.”

The five Clubs were selected to receive the top honor based on a variety of rigorous criteria, including planning a successful one-day service event, coordinating a 6-8 week service project and conducting two service-learning and/or civic engagement activities. The finalist entries were reviewed by a panel of judges and selected based on the type and quantity of completed projects, demonstration of leadership skills and impact on the community. This year’s Regional Torch Club Award is the first of its kind and seeks to teach members the value of hard work and the reward of giving back to the community.

“Our mission is to make a positive impact on the communities we serve, and we’re proud to partner with Boys & Girls Clubs of America to support Torch Club and provide life-changing opportunities for youth across the world,” said Amy Shanler, director of community relations for Staples Foundation. “Through these incredible service projects, these young people are developing strong character and leadership skills that will last a lifetime.”

Torch Clubs are small groups within Boys & Girls Clubs that encourage positive self-esteem and personal growth; build communication skills; reinforce academic achievement; and encourage the development of conscientious citizenship. Torch Club’s mission is to motivate pre-teens to become role models and ambassadors for promoting good character, tolerance, diversity and inclusion among peers. Support from Staples Foundation enables BGCA to continue to provide training, programming and support to help meet the needs of pre-teens at this critical stage in their development.

About Boys & Girls Clubs of America

For more than 100 years, Boys & Girls Clubs of America (www.bgca.org) has changed and saved lives, enabling young people to achieve great futures as productive, caring, responsible citizens. Today, some 4,000 Boys & Girls Clubs serve some 4 million children and teens through Club membership and community outreach. Clubs are located in neighborhoods throughout the country and on U.S. military installations worldwide, providing a wide variety of youth development programs conducted by trained, professional staff. Key programs emphasize academic success, good character and citizenship, and healthy lifestyles. In a Harris Survey of alumni, 57 percent said the Club saved their lives. National headquarters are located in Atlanta.

About Staples Foundation for Learning

Founded in 2002, Staples Foundation for Learning has contributed to nearly 1,000 global, national and local charities that provide educational opportunities and job skills for all people, with a special emphasis on disadvantaged youth. Staples Foundation for Learning builds lasting relationships with world-class organizations including Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Ashoka, Earth Force, TakingItGlobal, and the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City. The foundation is the private charitable arm of Staples, Inc. and is an integral component of Staples Soul, which recognizes the connection between long-term business success and the impact Staples has on associates, communities and the planet. For more information about the foundation and Staples Soul, please visit www.staplesfoundation.org and www.staples.com/soul.

Photos/Multimedia Gallery Available: http://www.businesswire.com/cgi-bin/mmg.cgi?eid=6652118&lang=en

Multimedia Files:

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Staples district manager and Foundation director, Denise Zielecki (center), helps Boys & Girls Clubs youth paint a picnic table during a community service project to beautify an elementary school at a Boys & Girls Clubs of America teen leadership conference in Orlando, March 3-6. During the conference, Staples recognized members and advisors from five Torch Clubs, which is a character and leadership program nationally sponsored by Staples Foundation, for their year-long community service efforts. Prizes included an all-expenses paid trip to the conference for 15 Club representatives and $25,000 to benefit the Clubs. Pictured from left, Jamira R., Angela Mackin (advisor), Elaine S., Denise Zielecki, Ilaniel N., Yasmine N. (Photo: Business Wire)
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Orlando-area Staples associates joined Boys & Girls Clubs members and staff from around the world to take part in a community service project to beautify an elementary school. The group sanded and painted picnic tables during a Boys & Girls Clubs of America teen leadership conference, March 3-6. Staples sponsored Club members and staff from five Torch Clubs, which is a character and leadership program nationally sponsored by Staples Foundation, for their year-long community service efforts. Prizes included an all-expenses paid trip to the conference for 15 Club representatives and $25,000 to benefit the Clubs. (Photo: Business Wire)
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Contact:

BGCA
Nicole Sutton, 404-487-5962
PR Director
nsutton@bgca.org


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