For three years now, Aniela Baj has been on a mission to provide inner-city kids with a program that many of them can't afford: a top-notch summer camp.
With a $10,000 grant from Sears, Aniela's award-winning Buffalo Eastsiders Standing Together (BEST) program will now be able to serve more children.
Aniela, 16, a junior at Villa Maria Academy, was named the female national winner in a youth service contest sponsored by the Backstreet Boys, Sears and Youth Service America.
She initially won the Larger Than Life Award and a $2,000 grant for National Youth Service Day in April. She used the grant to fund a two-day camp recruitment session for children in Emerson and Nowak playgrounds. She also launched a cleanup effort in the playgrounds.
The BEST program provides motivational speakers, educational games, drug prevention and other programs for East Side children. Since its beginning, almost 100 children have participated in the program.
Aniela volunteers and is very active in student organizations. She also enjoys ballet and lyrical dance.