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Boys & Girls Club Helps Neighbor

Fairfield's Wakeman Boys and Girls Clubs is helping its Black Rock Rock neighbor, the Burroughs Community Center, build a 25,000-square-foot Boys and Girls Clubhouse. The addition to the center is a main reason Burroughs was chosen to be the beneficiary of the funds raised at the 29th annual Fairfield Christmas Christmas Tree Festival in December (see article).

"We consider Black Rock to be part of our community," said Kristin Nick, the president of the tree festival board. "It is an attractive opportunity for us, as it is a project that can really make a contribution or a difference. Black Rock is in desperate need for a community center and it will help over 100 kids and also adults."

The Burroughs Community Center is already a major part of Bridgeport, but lacks the resources or technology to serve the community as well as it could, currently serving about 40 children per day.

Each year the festival raises around $200,000, according to Nick. The charity or organization that is the beneficiary provides volunteers to help run the event and Burroughs Executive Director Kevin Simmons says there are already 50 people involved. The center applied to be the beneficiary last December and went through an extensive process that includes an application, interviews and on-site visits, Nick said.

Platex Products CEO Joel Smilow also donated money for the new clubhouse. He has helped raise funds for 12 clubhouses across the United States, including one in Ansonia. The new facility, which will be managed by Wakeman, will bear Smilow's name.

The project will cost $7 million and will eventually serve over 1,000 children. It will feature basketball courts, classrooms for photography, computers and other skills to be developed and areas to do homework and study.

Although $200,000 is just a small portion of what it will take to complete the project, Nick said that exposure and publicity for the beneficiary has always been an added bonus. In the past, organizations like Operation Hope and Giant Steps took off after being the beneficiary of the festival.

Groundbreaking on the new facility is set for July.

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