BRIDGEPORT — A family-owned gas station in the neighborhood has come up with a unique idea to support its local school.
Two pumps at the South Side Fuel Center Plus, 970 W. Pershing Road, have been decorated in the maroon-and-white colors of Bridgeport Catholic Academy. Beginning Saturday, anyone who fills up at the two pumps will have a portion of their sale go towards the school.
The fundraiser was the idea of the Scalise family, which has owned the BP gas station since 1999. Carmen Scalise, who manages the business for his father and uncle, who are the owners, said his children go to Bridgeport Catholic Academy, as do many of his customers' kids. It is their way to give back to a pivotal neighborhood institution, as well as to thank customers, Scalise said.
"A lot of parents drop their kids off and I see them right back at the gas station," he said. "We want to do something more permanent for the customers that support us."
A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held for the newly-decorated pump at 10 a.m. Saturday. After that, a portion of all sales at those pumps will be donated to the school. The family has not put an end date on the fundraiser or a cap on how much can be donated, Scalise said. After years of giving to the school to help with capital improvements and other efforts, Scalise said his family wanted to set up a more permanent donation source for the academy.
"There's no deadline," he said. "As long as it's successful, we'll keep it open."
The fundraiser is part of BP's "fueling communities" program, which helps local stations fundraise for their areas. The "spirit pumps" were officially licensed and professionally decorated, according to a press release. BP says it has donated $35 million since 2006 to Chicago civic and community groups.
Scalise said he wanted to raise funds for Bridgeport Catholic Academy, 3700 S. Lowe Ave., because of what the school means for the community and for his family. He said the school will put the funds toward science, technology, engineering and math studies, also known as STEM program.
"It's nice because you get to see the results of the donations," Scalise said about donating locally.