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Londonderry venture helps local businesses find new ways to support youth programs

Union Leader Correspondent

November 28. 2012 10:44PM

LONDONDERRY - Two years ago, when members of Londonderry High School's Marching Lancers had their sights set on the Rose Bowl, staff members at L-Town Garage knew they wanted to help make that happen.

Like many small businesses with limited resources, garage owners Mark Phillips and his daughter, Jackie Swenson, didn't have lots of spare cash, but they did have a steady stream of loyal customers.

The local garage soon began offering $29 vehicle inspections and donating those fees to the school band.

The program has raised more than $20,000 to date and has inspired Phillips and Swenson to reach out to like-minded businesses. The result is the recently formed Londonderry Fundraising Partners Inc., a new 501C nonprofit organization dedicated to helping local businesses give back to area youth programs.

"He really loves helping young people and giving back to his community," Pollyann Winslow, a longtime band parent serving as the charity's spokesman, said of Phillips.

While many local businesses have expressed interest in helping kids in the community, sometimes it's easier said than done.

"There's the issue of accounting and the issue of promotion. It can get pretty overwhelming and businesses can't always afford to make an outright donation even if they wanted to," Winslow said. "So having the Fundraising Partners is a way of helping these businesses through the whole process. We all know money can be tight right now, so this is a great way folks can pitch in by purchasing a product or service they already needed, and help out their community at the same time."

Open to any businesses wishing to participate, any area youth organizations can apply for assistance.

"This is really outside the box when it comes to typical fundraising methods," Swenson said. "But so far, it's proven successful."

So far, all of the organizations are school-based, though future efforts won't be limited to the school district, Winslow said.

As of this week, the Fundraising Partners are arranging donations for Londonderry High School's Pantene Beautiful Lengths program, which assists with hair donations to make wigs and fundraising for cancer charities; the high school's Destination ImagiNation and FIRST Robotics teams, the local Police Explorers post and, of course, the Marching Lancers and Color Guard.

"Nonprofits and businesses can work at different speeds," Phillips said. "So having the Fundraisers here to act as a third party will streamline the whole process. And the magic of it all is that there's no extra charge for customers wanting to participate."

With the L-Town Garage now donating a portion of proceeds from its tire sales to area youth groups, Phillips said he's hoping other businesses will follow in his footsteps.

"Even if there are other garages out there that want to do something like what we're doing, I'm fine with that," he said.

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