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Mar 4, 2019 3:31 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town Youth Bureau To Offer Eighth Annual Community Service Grant Challenge

Westhampton Beach Elementary School students received packets of sunflower seeds last year. COURTESY AMY DEMCHAK
Mar 5, 2019 10:28 AM

Last year, Westhampton Beach High School students delivered more than 400 sunflower seed packets—each with an inspirational poem—to elementary school students as part of a community service project.

On Monday, Amy Demchak, a business teacher at the high school, said that the project wouldn’t have been possible without help from the Southampton Town Youth Bureau.

Since 2012, the Youth Bureau has offered a total of $2,500 to eligible organizations, through a Community Service Challenge, according to the bureau’s director, Nancy Lynott. The challenge encourages youth-based groups to apply for funding up to $500 for community service initiatives throughout Southampton Town.

Last year, Ms. Lynott said the bureau received a dozen applications and funded eight, which she said is the annual average.

This year, Ms. Demchak hopes to get as lucky as she has in previous years. She plans to meet with the Westhampton Beach High School’s National Honors Society this week to brainstorm project ideas.

She explained that it will likely focus on sustainability, noting that the students have mentioned donating aluminum water bottles to the district’s middle school to help eliminate plastic waste.

In the past, the National Honors Society used the grant to purchase Easter baskets for homeless families living on the East End, Ms. Demchak said.

“The grant is excellent because it can get the youth involved,” she said. “It’s very important for us to teach students to take on community service projects at a young age. If giving back becomes a part of your life, it’s something that you’re going to continue later on in life.”

Other grant receivers have used the funds to donate food to homeless shelters, host an annual dinner for senior citizens, or donate backpacks and school supplies to students in need.

“Young people, they have lots of great ideas,” Ms. Lynott said. “The purpose is to direct those ideas toward something that benefits the community. It’s a human approach to resolving local problems.”

The grant is funded through the Southampton Town annual budget and cannot be used to pay salaries, stipends, consultant fees, or to support a fundraiser. “The project has to serve the larger community,” Ms. Lynott said.

Applications must be submitted by Friday, March 8, and grants will be awarded in April. Approved projects must be completed by November 30, Ms. Lynott said.

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