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Best Buy Children’s Foundation awards $6,000 grant to Children’s Home

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The Children’s Home of Jefferson County recently became the first area recipient of a Best Buy Children’s Foundation Community Grant.

The $6,000 award will help the agency expand its culinary arts program at the SoZo Teen Center, located within the Marcy Building, 167 Polk St.

“A lot of organizations have applied over the years,” said Manfred G. Laube, Best Buy community specialist. “It’s normally up to $10,000 and there’s a possibility of getting one next year, but it’s not likely.”

Mr. Laube said there’s a lengthy grant application process, which begins at the local Best Buy level, but all applications then are moved to a district level and therefore compete with many other nonprofit agencies.

Children’s Home Administration Services Director Barbara J. Peck said the agency was thrilled to receive the award, which will help the culinary arts program thrive.

Participating teens “will learn all aspects of the food-service industry,” she said. “The program’s designed to get them ready for employment.”

With the program, she said, Teen Center Coordinator Anthony R. Gullo taught teenage participants how to prepare daily meals and snacks.

“This is taking it to the next level,” Mrs. Peck said.

She said the expansion was planned regardless of the success of the grant application, but the agency is thankful for the monetary help.

According to a news release issued by the Children’s Home, the program will teach participants “the importance of being on time, working within a team concept, accountability and the lifelong lesson of hard work yielding rewards.”

The SoZo teen center serves more than 400 local teenagers each year. The drop-in center allows teens to hang out, participate in a variety of activities, get help with homework and watch television or play games. It is open from 2:30 to 8 p.m. Mondays to Thursdays, and from 2:30 to 9 p.m. Fridays.

Over the past three years, Best Buy has given about $80,000 to the nonprofit community, Mr. Laube said. The chain’s nonprofit and business partnership arm also is gearing up for its annual scholarship awards. Local students may apply for a $1,000 scholarship.

For more information on that, or for nonprofits to find out more about grant applications for next year, people can call Mr. Laube at 782-0867, ext. 2021, or email him at manfred.laube@bestbuy.com.

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