By John Chambless

Staff Writer

The Garage youth centers in Kennett Square and West Grove give resources to local teens every day. On Dec. 7, the public can return the favor at the fourth annual Holiday Auction Fundraiser.

The Kennett Square location, at 115 S. Union St., will be the site of the party from 7 to 10 p.m. There will be a buffet stocked with foods, wine and beers from local businesses. A live auction and silent auction will offer items including a week's stay on the Maya Riviera in Mexico, a one-year membership to the YMCA, original art from Chester County artisans and more. Proceeds support after-school programs for young people in Kennett, West Grove and Avondale.

In 2001, a vacant garage in Kennett Square was renovated by a local business leader and youth pastor. For 10 years, the center was a home away from home for students in area middle and high schools, where they could talk, do homework, learn about filling out job applications and learn to get along in a supportive environment that's faith-based but non-denominational. Another Garage opened in West Grove was added in 2011, and the two facilities now serve more than 400 students each week. 

The centers offer not only fun and conversation, but also tutoring and mentoring, community service opportunities, computer lab facilities and enrichment activities. The Garage is linked to a long list of community partners, as well as dozens of companies that provide financial support. Partners include the Kennett and Avon Grove school districts, La Communidad Hispana, the Kennett Police Department, the Peacemaker Center, the United Way, Good Neighbors, the YMCA, area churches and businesses.

The mission if the Garage is to empower students to reach their potential scholastically, socially and spiritually. Each young person is known by name, and there's an emphasis on helping them pursue life beyond high school, whether furthering their education or seeking employment. Teens learn to form healthy relationships, pursue a life with meaning, and support each other through challenges. 

Many of the teens at the Garage live in single-parent homes, or have parents who do not speak English. The staff members work with the families on a one-to-one basis to help students achieve.

Tickets for the Holiday Auction Fundraiser are $35, and can be purchased online at http://garageholidayauction.eventbrite.com. For more information, visit www.garageyouthcenter.org, or call 610-869-4400.