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Balloon Festival & Pnc Bank Help Local Children “grow Up Great”

May 31, 2008

The Quick Chek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning and PNC Bank brought a giant, 75-foot-tall hot air balloon to Mackay Park in Englewood in Bergen County to promote PNC’s “Grow Up Great” school readiness program.
The programis the most comprehensive corporate-based school readiness program in the country, a 10-year, $100 million investment dedicated to help produce stronger, smarter, and healthier children, families and communities, preparing young children for school and life.
150 pre-school children between the ages of 3 and 5 years old from the Bergen Family Center enjoyed the unique opportunity to step inside a giant hot air balloon and experience the thrills and visual attractions this event offers as they go outdoors to study the world around them. Bergen Family Center is Bergen County’s oldest continuously operating family service agency; this is the 3rd consecutive year that the Bergen Family Center has been honored.
This walk-through event featured a giant hot air balloon which will be inflated on its side and securely staked to the ground allowing Bergen Family Center children to play inside. Festival producer Howard Freeman will provide an age-appropriate lesson on the science of hot-air ballooning — giving kids a chance to “Grow Up Great!” — with Festival Director and pilot Sally Mazzocchi providing the balloon. “We greatly appreciate the continued support we receive from PNC and the Quick Chek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning, it really makes a difference in promoting school readiness for our children,” said Mitch Schonfeld, President and CEO of Bergen Family Center. “PNC’s Grow Up Great Foundation has supported Bergen Family Center for four years with most generous grants to our unique HIPPY (Home Instructions for Parents of Pre-School Youngsters) program for children ages 3-5 and our other early childhood education programs.””PNC Grow Up Great is an unprecedented 10-year, $100 million investment, helping prepare young children, from birth to age five, for school and life,” said Joseph Whall, Director of Client & Community Relations for PNC Bank, whose Grow Up Great program has awarded program funding to head start centers, non-profit early childhood organizations, cultural institutions and institutions of higher learning to enhance pre-school readiness for disadvantaged children.“PNC is particularly pleased to provide our financial support to the innovative pre-school programs of the Bergen Family Center,” added Whall. The center regularly provides hands-on learning experiences to their youngest children. And with the help of the Quick Chek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning in association with PNC Bank, those children begin to see the wonders of the world through the lens of science.”
“It’s all about the children, to see the joy in their faces when they get to play in the balloon,” said Freeman, who provided the balloon, one of the 125 hot air balloons scheduled to be at the Festival, and the lesson for the children as part of the Festival’s community outreach program. “We believe in doing well by doing good. We are thrilled to provide these great kids with a fun and exciting learning experience that they wouldn’t get anywhere else.”
Founded in 1898, Bergen Family Center supports, strengthens and enriches family life through innovative programs and quality services. Bergen Family Center offers multiple educational and recreational programs for children 10 months to 11 years old, including day-care, pre-school and after-school programming. The center provides a great start for children in the public schools of their home towns.
This is the first of two PNC Grow Up Great events to be conducted in New Jersey. The Quick Chek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning and PNC will hold a similar walk-through balloon event at the Better Beginnings Child Development Center in Hightstown in Mercer County on Thursday, June 24, 2008.