A $10K ‘Giving Tuesday’ gift

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(Photo by CAROLINE LOBSINGER) STCU staff present a $10,000 donation to the Sandpoint Teen Center staff and local teens on Tuesday. STCU officials surprised the center with the donation on “Giving Tuesday.”

SANDPOINT — The Sandpoint Teen Center got a big surprise on "Giving Tuesday" when STCU officials stopped by with a check for $10,000.

"It is amazing," said Claire Honsinger, executive director for the center. "It was a total surprise and came at a perfect time as we are launching our annual giving campaign for the month of December."

Ezra Eckhardt, STCU's regional president/CEO-elect, said the credit union conducts a "day of giving" each year. Traci McGlathery, STCU community relations manager, does research throughout the year, looking at different nonprofits in the region. He said they look for organizations that have a specific need and are "generally interested in helping out kids and building an educational foundation."

"What we found is, based on the network that has been created in Sandpoint and the impact the youth center has in place, they have a really positive and enriching after school program and they are able to make an impact on 30 to 40, even up to 50 kids a day." Eckhardt said. 

"We knew they were looking to make some improvements to the building and that they are heading into a fundraising campaign, and we wanted to let them know that we are interested in helping them make a difference in the community."

The teen center serves as an after school drop-in center for youth in grades seven-12 and, on average, about 30 teens a day visit the center. The teens are provided with healthy snacks and a hot meal each day through the center's culinary program. The center also provides different activities throughout the week, such as games, bowling, yoga and an outdoor program.

Honsinger said it is "great" that the donation is unrestricted funds, because at this time the center needs to cover operational costs. Without the worry of basic expenses, the center's members can concentrate on raising money for the building fund. So far, the teen center has raised one-third of the amount needed to purchase the building on Division Avenue, which will allow them to keep the doors open later and provide more activities for the teens.

"This really energized us to be able to meet the teens' needs and look forward to the future a little bit," Honsinger said. "We are so thrilled to have (STCU's) partnership and support ... We have a lot of amazing organizations in Sandpoint that are doing incredible work, so for them to support us is a huge honor."

Anyone interested in donating or who would like to volunteer at the teen center can contact the center's executive director, Claire Honsinger, at 208-304-8247 or email sandpointteencenter@yahoo.com. Donation can be sent to the teen center as well at P.O. Box 1066, Sandpoint, ID, 83864.

Mary Malone can be reached by email at mmalone@bonnercountydailybee.com and follow her on Twitter @MaryDailyBee.

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