Gahanna's Niagara Bottling recently put books into the hands of children in need at an after-school learning center it helped establish in Columbus.

Gahanna's Niagara Bottling recently put books into the hands of children in need at an after-school learning center it helped establish in Columbus.

Through Volunteers of America, Niagara Cares, the philanthropic arm of Niagara Bottling, awarded a $100,000 grant to support the development of the on-site after-school extended learning program at Capital Park Apartments in Columbus.

The grant was awarded in December 2015 and construction of the on-site learning center was completed in the summer of 2016, said Loreani Guadalupe, Niagara communications specialist.

Capital Park, an affordable housing community managed by Volunteers of America, is home to 360 school-aged children.

"These families have little access to after-school and summer youth programming due to numerous barriers, including cost, location, transportation and language," said Mike King, Volunteers of America national president and CEO. "Because of Niagara Bottling's generosity, we are able to provide these children with resources that allow them to thrive, building foundations for a successful future."

The after-school program includes tutoring, supervised computer lab time, dinners and other enrichment activities.

Niagara Cares also has donated 500 children's books for young residents at the apartment building.

Employees of Niagara Bottling volunteered to distribute those books and hosted a book mark-decorating activity for the children. Gahanna's Niagara facility has 89 team members, Guadalupe said.

"We are thrilled to take part in this tremendous effort to provide children and families in need access to educational resources," said Kristen Venick, director of Niagara Cares. "We hope this donation will not only benefit the children but also their parents by providing an opportunity to read together as a family."

Volunteers of America is a national, nonprofit, faith-based organization dedicated to helping those in need live healthy, safe and productive lives.

Since 1896, it has supported America's most vulnerable groups, including veterans, seniors, people with disabilities, at-risk youth, men and women returning from prison, homeless individuals and families, those recovering from addictions and many others.

Niagara Bottling LLC has been family owned and operated since 1963. Headquartered in Ontario, Calif., Niagara operates facilities throughout the United States and Mexico.

The company invested about $50 million in purchasing and upgrading a 308,000-square-foot building at 1600 Eastgate Parkway in Gahanna to establish a two-line production facility to bottle and distribute water in 2013.

Niagara Cares supports local and national community initiatives, serving children and families in need by engaging stakeholders and investing its resources.

For more information, visit niagarawater.com/niagara-cares.

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla