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Scarsdale Residents Lend a Hand to Mt. Vernon Kids

It was January 23, Scarsdale resident Judy Corlin's birthday. Instead of throwing herself a party or going out for dinner, Corlin went to volunteer at Amazing Afternoons , an after-school enrichment and academic support program for Mount Vernon's Edward Williams Elementary Schoo l operated by Westchester Jewish Community Services.

Corlin brought a birthday cake with her that day and planned to have students talk and write about their own birthdays. One girl told the group her birthday was January 23 and that she was not going to have a celebration.

"That was the day we were living in. I still get goose bumps," said Corlin. "It was serendipitous. We all had a birthday party for the girl."

Impromptu birthday parties are not the only things Corlin and the other volunteers of Amazing Afternoons bring to students' lives at Edward Williams Elementary School, where nearly 90 percent of the students qualify for free and reduced lunch due to low family income.

Amazing Afternoons provides a corps of adult and teen volunteers who offer homework help, recreation, mentoring and a safe place for students to be after-school while their parents are at work.

Ali Schnitzer, a Scarsdale High School senior, said she has been tutoring the same girl for five years at Amazing Afternoons . Schnitzer said when she first started working with the girl, the younger student didn't know how to answer when asked when her birthday was. Schnitzer also said when the girl was asked what she was allergic to she replied by saying a color.

"Now she hardly needs help with her homework," said Schnitzer.

But state budget cuts threaten to discontinue free after-school enrichment and academic support for the Mount Vernon students. Concerned Scarsdale residents have set a goal to raise $200,000 so students can continue to have "amazing afternoons" through the 2011-2012 school year.

"This program has provided the girl I tutor with one steady thing in her life," said Schnitzer. "It would be such an unbelievable loss to take this program away."

The kick-off fundraising event is at Edwards Williams Elementary School on June 9 from 5 to 7 p.m. For more information call (914) 439-1913.

Why do you think people should donate to Amazing Afternoons? Please leave comments below.

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