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Salem VFW funds Pizza and Pages book club

SALEM — What could be better than reading and discussing your favorite book?

How about reading and discussing your favorite book while eating pizza? That’s exactly what teens at the Salem Boys and Girls Club will be doing this fall as part of the new Pizza and Pages book club.

And thanks to a $3,000 donation from the local Veteran’s of Foreign Wars club, that book club will be able to include as many kids as want to take part.

The donation was part of the VFW’s commitment to helping sponsor local activities, according to Patrick Vallera, president of the men’s auxiliary to the VFW. Vallera said the organization raises money through the Friday night raffles it’s been hosting for the past several years.

“We had sent the Boys and Girls Club some small checks in the past,” said Vallera. “We sat down with them and said we wanted to sponsor a program.”Vallera sat down with Boys and Girls Club Chief Professional Officer Michael Centor about programs the VFW could possibly sponsor.

For Centor, there was one potential program that stood out. Last year, Gail Salamone began running some new teen programs at the club and asked the teens what kind of activities they would like to see added to the schedule.

“She’s done an excellent job listening to the teens, and the teens wanted to start a book club,” said Centor.

From that idea, the weekly Pizza and Pages program was born, and the funding from the VFW this year is making the program a reality.

In the first week, Salamone said 10 teens have already signed up for the program.

The book club ties into other educational and mentoring programs the club has run before, including the Reading Buddy program, where teens mentor younger readers.

In addition to funding the pizza and book, Centor said the donation could help the club buy several e-book readers.

For Vallera, the donation is an opportunity for the VFW to remind the community about the support it provides for worthy community projects.“We want people to know where our money goes, that way we can help keep it coming in,” he said.

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