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Saratoga drivers donate full day's driver fees toward Project Lift

23 August 2013

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (PRESS RELEASE) –- This year marks the fifth in a row that drivers from the Harness Track at Saratoga Casino and Raceway (SCR) have chosen Franklin Community Center (FCC) as the recipient of their generosity for "Project Lift," donating their drivers' fees for an entire day to the center, demonstrating that giving back to the local community is just as important as their race to the finish line.

On Aug. 27, FCC's "Project Lift" will benefit from this year's donation of $6,000. That donation consists of the $3,000 in driver's fees which are voluntarily given up by the drivers and then matched by SCR. Raceway officials say the drivers are so passionate about the cause, that they are the ones who spearhead the annual effort to make the donation happen.

"The work that the Franklin Community Center staff does with Project Lift is really appreciated by everyone in the community. Saratoga Casino and Raceway is proud to match the generous donation of our driving colony who will donate their entire driver fees to the cause next Tuesday," said Skip Carlson, vice president of external affairs.

"The horsemen value all of the services the Franklin Community Center provide but Project Lift is special to us in that it helps provide role models and education to children that hold the key to the future of our community," said Barry Segel, the president of the Saratoga Harness Horsepersons Association (SHHA).

Franklin Community Center is always looking for ways to increase community support to help their programs. Funding cuts and a struggling economy continue to affect the agency and their program, Project Lift.

Project Lift is an after-school prevention program for at-risk youth in grades one through five. Serving 75 children and their families in the Saratoga Springs City School District each year, it's one of the center's most important programs, leaving FCC staff to find supplemental income to ensure the same level of service that has been provided for nearly 30 years.

Services to Project Lift families stretch much farther than a basic after school program. Offering a safe, caring and structured environment, Project Lift's unique approach heightens children’s social and emotional competence, improves decision-making skills, offers lessons on the prevention of tobacco, drugs, alcohol and bullying, boosts self-esteem and helps strengthen the bond between child, family, school and community. All of the families enrolled in the program utilize the agency's ancillary services, including food, clothing, school supplies for the entire family, holiday assistance and Christmas gifts, summer camp scholarships, winter gear and much more.

The staff at FCC says the program is too important to too many families to see it dwindle, and the donation from the drivers is always an asset.

"We consider ourselves so fortunate to have such a strong relationship with Saratoga Casino and Raceway, the drivers and staff," said executive director Kari Cushing. "They not only understand the need in our community, they strive to help meet those needs throughout the year."

The SCR relationship with the center has been flourishing for the past eight years. As one of the agency's biggest donors throughout the year, FCC says it means even more receiving from a business whose entire staff stands behind their mission.

"Project Lift has seen multiple funding cuts over the past few years leaving staff searching for ways to ensure the program remains a consistent and positive opportunity for the children, families and schools we serve," said Jaime Williams, associate director of FCC. "We are extremely grateful to the SHHA drivers and Saratoga Casino and Raceway for their continued support."

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