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Denver Boys & Girls Club Takes Top Prize in National Service Competition

Pre-teen service club honored for efforts to raise awareness and inclusion for children with Down Syndrome

Wednesday, February 23, 2011 8:00 am EST

Dateline:

ATLANTA

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SPLS
"Just Like Me: Let’s Do Something About It"

ATLANTA--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Pre-teen members of Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver’s Robert M. Shopneck Branch in Brighton, Colo., have been awarded first prize for their efforts to help other children in a national service competition called Linking Hearts & Hands from Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) and Staples Foundation for Learning, a private foundation created by Staples, Inc.

Torch Club members at the Robert M. Shopneck Boys & Girls Club celebrate their first place win in th ...

Torch Club members at the Robert M. Shopneck Boys & Girls Club celebrate their first place win in the Linking Hearts & Hands community service competition. Alainna S. (left) is secretary, Mercedes P. (center) is treasurer and Sergio P. (right, holding check) is president of the Brighton, Colo. Torch Club, which is a character and leadership program for Boys & Girls Clubs members age 11 to 13 supported nationally by Staples Foundation. (Photo: Business Wire)

Members of the Denver-area branch’s Torch Club, a character and leadership program for Boys & Girls Club youth age 11-13, planned and completed the service project called “Just Like Me: Let’s Do Something About It” that increased awareness and support for children with Down Syndrome. Torch Club members raised money for the Mile High Down Syndrome Association by holding a car wash and participating in the 2010 Step Up Walk. They also joined other local Boys & Girls Club members for an Awareness Walk-A-Thon to educate others about Down Syndrome and hosted a holiday party for children with Down Syndrome and their families. The project was selected out of more than 275 entries nationally to receive the top honor, which includes a $2,500 award from Staples Foundation to benefit the Club.

The Torch Club National Service Project is a competition held annually to encourage service that addresses an important issue. This year, members across the country chose the theme of “children helping children” and completed projects that benefited other youth in need. Through their participation in the contest, Torch Club members learn the value of giving back and seeing a project to completion. They also gain a better understanding of the needs of other youth – locally, nationally and globally – and share their knowledge with others.

“Developing strong character and leadership skills is integral to helping children grow into conscientious members of society,” said Kelvin Davis, senior director of character and citizenship for BGCA. “Through the Linking Hearts & Hands national service initiative, our members learn lessons about compassion, kindness and hard work which helps them become positive citizens and leaders in their communities and schools.”

The competition also recognized other Torch Clubs for their outstanding service projects. Second place and $1,500 was awarded to Boys & Girls Clubs of Springfield, Mo., Musgrave Unit, which collected 800 stuffed animals for children in need due to emergency situations. Third place and $1,000 was awarded to Boys Club of Sioux City, Iowa, which donated 750 toothbrushes to local children by hosting a Halloween haunted house fundraiser. Two honorable mention awards and $750 went to the Ramstein Youth Program, a Boys & Girls Club on Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany, and the Haslam Family Club University of Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley in Knoxville, Tenn. Forty-five merit winners received $500.

The finalist entries were reviewed by a panel of judges and ranked based on originality, demonstration of leadership skills and impact on other youth. Judges included: Christie Garton, writer and curator of USA Today’s Kindness philanthropy community; Liz Gumbinner, co-Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Cool Mom Picks; Joni Cohen Zlotowitz, writer and television producer with LIVE! with Regis and Kelly; Romero Brown, vice president of program & youth development services for BGCA, and John Zarba, creative director at Staples, Inc.

“Staples has a long-standing relationship with Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and we’re proud to support programs that encourage and reward civic engagement and community service,” said Amy Shanler, director of community relations for Staples. “Through Boys & Girls Clubs initiatives such as the Torch Club National Service Project, we’re able to help fulfill our mission to make a positive impact on the communities we serve, and spark a lasting passion for character and leadership in our youth.”

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=6621057&lang=en

Multimedia Files:

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Torch Club members at the Robert M. Shopneck Boys & Girls Club in Brighton, Colo. received first place in the Linking Hearts & Hands national community service competition. The Club was awarded $2,500 from Staples Foundation in recognition of its service project to support children with Down Syndrome. Pictured, from left to right - Front Row: Rico P., Mercedes P., Sergio P., Etta Pacheco (Staples); Middle Row: Derik Quinn (Staples), Tim Bernicke (Staples), Alainna S., Alejandrina O., Savannah P.; Back Row: Jordan W., Racquel W., Shay Cardenas (Torch Club Advisor), Anastacia A., Erica Welbourne (Staples) (Photo: Business Wire)
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Torch Club members at the Robert M. Shopneck Boys & Girls Club in Brighton, Colo. were presented a $2,500 check from Staples Foundation in recognition of its service project to support children with Down Syndrome. The project won first place out of 275 entries nationally in the Linking Hearts & Hands community service competition. (Photo: Business Wire)
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Torch Club members at the Robert M. Shopneck Boys & Girls Club celebrate their first place win in the Linking Hearts & Hands community service competition. Alainna S. (left) is secretary, Mercedes P. (center) is treasurer and Sergio P. (right, holding check) is president of the Brighton, Colo. Torch Club, which is a character and leadership program for Boys & Girls Clubs members age 11 to 13 supported nationally by Staples Foundation. (Photo: Business Wire)

Contact:

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

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