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Recreation department seeks funding for scholarships
City of Turlock Recreation Department scholarships allow children to participate in a variety of programs — like the hula class pictured above — despite their inability to pay. - photo by Journal file photo
Every year, the City of Turlock Recreation Division provides over $20,000 in scholarships to allow everyone the opportunity to participate in the variety of activities the department offers, regardless of ability to pay.
This year, however, the recreation department is short of funding to provide scholarships — about $11,000 short, to be exact.
Funding for the yearly scholarships is made available through a Community Development Block Grant through the City of Turlock. The grant has provided the recreation department with $20,000 in scholarships funding for the past couple of years. But this year, the department only received $9,000.
“We have enough youth who want to participate in programs that can’t afford it, so we have used the $20,000 every year,” said Juliene Flanders, Turlock Recreation Department superintendent.
The $9,000 of grant money ran out at the end of February. Residents who have been requesting scholarships since then have been placed on a waiting list until funding becomes available, Flanders said. Typically, the department runs out of scholarship money every year, but usually not until the end of April.  
Fundraising has been continuous in an effort provide more scholarships for the community. So far, the recreation department has raised $4,000 and they hope to raise more to last them until July when they can re-apply for grant money.
A drive-through barbecue dinner will be held this Thursday at Neto’s Catering to raise more funds for the scholarship program. Each ticket is $10 and the dinner will be held from 4 p.m. until 7: 30 p.m.
So far, there have been about 350 scholarships given out to those children who want to participate in the activities provided by the recreation department. In the past, there have been around 500 scholarships given out every year.
Scholarships are given to those who apply and fall under certain guidelines, Flanders said. The main requirement that scholarship seekers must fall under are the low-income guidelines. Each application is reviewed and scholarship money is granted, if they meet the requirements.
Once scholarship money is granted, each child can only receive $75 at the most, no matter how many activities they want to participate in, she said. Scholarships are available for children under 18 years of age and residents who are 62 years and older.
With summer time coming up, there is an increase in community interest and a bigger need for scholarships, Flanders said. She said she has also seen an increase in scholarship applications due to the down economy.
To donate money to the scholarship funds, contact the Turlock Recreation Department at 668-5599.