BJ’s Wholesale Club Partners with Local School and Scholarship Program to Plant a School Garden

March 14, 2012 | Jacksonville, Fla. – Nearly 150 students at Temple Christian Academy had the opportunity to roll up their sleeves and try out their green thumbs today during the groundbreaking ceremony for the school’s garden.

Sponsored by BJ’s Wholesale Club, the garden is now home to hundreds of plants, including eggplant, peppers, lettuce, tomatoes and herbs. The students in kindergarten through 12th grade at Temple Christian have nurtured the plants from seeds in their science classes.

Temple Christian Academy, a school that educates approximately 70 students who are benefitting from the Step Up For Students Scholarship Program, attempted to start a garden last year, but didn’t have the funds to support the project.

“This garden is something that we’ve wanted to pursue for a while, and we are beyond thrilled to be able have a garden to call our own,” Principal Jackie Pitts said. “It is such an honor for our school to work with BJ’s Wholesale Club in the creation of this garden, and we are excited to share this journey with our students who will be able to enjoy the fruits of their labor while learning about health and nutrition.”

Left to Right: Archie Hogue, BJ's Wholesale Club AVP; Anne White, Step Up For Students VP of Operations, Organizational Development & Human Resources; and Temple Christian Academy Principal Jackie Pitts join Step Up For Students Scholarship recipients at the gardening event at Temple Christian Academy.

Left to Right: Archie Hogue, BJ’s Wholesale Club AVP; Anne White, Step Up For Students VP of Operations, Organizational Development & Human Resources; and Temple Christian Academy Principal Jackie Pitts join Step Up For Students Scholarship recipients at the gardening event at Temple Christian Academy.

The event supports Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move initiative, which works to promote a healthy lifestyle within today’s youngest generation by ensuring that every family has access to healthy, affordable food. “Through the garden project, not only do these children learn the science behind how plants grow, they now have access to fresh produce and will benefit from the nutrients in the vegetables,” said Pitts. “Many of these children otherwise would not have the resources at home. This is a huge blessing for our community.”

Step Up For Students is Florida’s Tax Credit Scholarship Program, which this year has enabled more than 38,000 low-income children to attend a school of their parents’ choice through contributions on behalf of corporations like BJ’s Wholesale Club.

BJ’s Wholesale Club has been a corporate partner with the Step Up For Students Scholarship Program since 2009 and has contributed more than $1.3 million to Step Up For Students, an amount that has provided over 323 scholarships to students from low-income families across the state.

“BJ’s Wholesale Club enthusiastically supports Step Up For Students and the mission of providing students with access to the education that best meets their individual needs,” said Archie Hogue, BJ’s Wholesale Club Regional Vice President. “It is exciting to be able to join two of our passions, education and our Farm to Club initiative, in an effort to give back to the communities that we serve.”

“BJ’s Wholesale Club enthusiastically supports Step Up For Students and the mission of providing students with access to the education that best meets their individual needs. It is exciting to be able to join two of our passions, education and our Farm to Club initiative, in an effort to give back to the communities that we serve.”Archie Hogue, BJ’s Wholesale Club Regional Vice President

Just last year BJ’s launched the Farm to Club initiative in select regions of their wholesale club business, which promotes locally sourced produce by partnering with farms within the region of their clubs. While the students will not be growing produce to be sold in BJ’s Wholesale Clubs, BJ’s believes it is important to teach the value of eating locally grown produce whenever possible.

“BJ’s Wholesale Club has been a strong partner for our organization, and we are grateful that they share our belief that all children should have equal opportunities when it comes to their education,” said Step Up For Students President Doug Tuthill. “This event truly showcased their commitment to the community, and we are proud to be a part of that.”

About BJ’s Wholesale Club

BJ’s is dedicated to providing members with high-quality, brand-name food and merchandise at prices that are significantly lower than supermarkets, supercenters, department stores, drug stores and specialty retail stores.  BJ’s carries the most product variety of any wholesale club with more than 7,000 items, including supermarket-sized staples, USDA “Choice” meats, all-natural and certified organic products and stock-up items. BJ’s is the only wholesale club to accept all manufacturers’ coupons and for greater convenience, offers the most payment options including EBT.

Headquartered in Westborough, Massachusetts, BJ’s Wholesale Club, Inc. is a leading operator of warehouse clubs in the eastern United States.  The Company operates 195 clubs and 107 gas stations in 15 eastern states.  Learn more and shop online at BJs.com or for exclusive content visit Facebook.com/bjswholesaleclub and Twitter.com/bjswholesale.

Giving back has always been at the very core of BJ’s culture.  Through charitable giving, community relations programs and product donations, BJ’s supports and enhances programs that provide vital services within each community we serve.

For more information about BJ’s corporate commitment to the community, please visit, www.bjs.com/about/community/.

About Step Up For Students

Step Up For Students is a nonprofit organization that administers the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship for low-income Florida students. The scholarship program was created by the Florida Legislature in 2001 and is funded by corporations that receive a dollar-for-dollar tax credit for their contributions.

For more information, visit www.StepUpForStudents.org.

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