Van donated to Park City Boys & Girls Club |

Van donated to Park City Boys & Girls Club

Taylor Eisenman, of the Record staff

This past September, CSK (Checker, Schuck’s and Kragen), the largest retailer of automotive parts and accessories in the western U.S., donated a van to Park City’s Boys & Girls Club. CSK has been donating to the Boys & Girls Club of America for upwards of 20 years, said Brandi Jolley, development director for the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Salt Lake.

Robby West, district manager for CSK, said CSK donates several vans a year, but that this was the first in Utah. "It’s a company-wide program. We sell a calendar for $1.99 and all the proceeds go to the Boys & Girls Club," he said. The calendar has about $100 worth of coupons in it and features restored cars. Calendars will be available at local Checker Auto shops from now until January.

Since receiving the van, Park City’s club has seen a noticeable difference in attendance, Shanna Nielsen, unit director, said. "Last year we averaged about 30 kids and this year we’re averaging 45," she said. The van was just an average large silver van until November when it was "wrapped" with the Boys & Girls Club logo.

"The colors and the sign that says Boys & Girls Club are awesome," student Pedro Ojeda said.

A dedication for the van was scheduled for Friday, Nov. 30, but was cancelled due to snow. Third-grader Henry Bakaly was disappointed in the cancellation because that was going to be the club’s first field trip.

Going on field trips was one of the main reasons for replacing the club’s old van, Jolley said. "With Park City being so far away from the rest of our clubs, they needed to have a reliable vehicle so that they can come up and join in club activities and events," she said.

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The Boys & Girls Club of Greater Salt Lake has six clubs across the state and serves more than 16,000 kids in Salt Lake, Summit and Tooele counties each year. An annual membership is just $10 a year.

That membership entitles Park City members to be picked up from school the van picks up from McPolin and Parley’s Park elementary schools, along with Ecker Hill and Treasure Mountain international middle schools. Nielsen said that normally her two staff members will drive the van, but they are looking to hire one more staff member.

Having the van makes a big difference for sixth-grader Perla Santana. "Before, my mom always had to take me, and now it’s much easier for her because she has to work," she said. "The van is great; it’s big enough for everyone." Ojeda used to take the school bus home and then walk to the club, he said.

For both Ojeda and Santana, their favorite part of the club is playing with friends. "We get to meet new people and get to know new friends, and they help and respect us here," Santana said.

Once students arrive at the club, which is located in City Park, they have a "power hour" for homework, Nielsen said. "And then we do arts and sports and have events like iron-chef competitions." There’s also a pool table, air hockey and more.

"My favorite part is the sports," Bakaly said. "On Monday’s we split up into groups and some people do sports and some people do art." Bakaly said he likes kickball and soccer.

For kids like second-grader Kaiko Solipo, coming to the has made an important difference. "Last year I wasn’t in the club, and I had to stay at home alone all by myself after school," he said.

Membership specialist Veronica Lucero believes situations like Solipo’s are what make the club so special. "I feel like it has really reached out to the Hispanic community and there really are a lot of opportunities for them here at the club," she said.

If you’re interested in joining the Boys & Girls Club of Park City, hours for juniors (ages six to 12) run 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Fridays. The teen program (ages 12 18) runs Monday through Thursday 5 to 6 p.m. and Friday 5 to 7:30 p.m.