NYRA Donating Trees for Anna House Fundraiser

Belmont Child Care Association raising money for on-track early education center.

The New York Racing Association is donating 45 treesand the space to plant themto the Belmont Child Care Association to help raise funds for Anna House, an on-track early education center at Belmont Park for the children of backstretch workers.

For a $100 donation, supporters will receive a certificate and a commemorative card in recognition of their gift, and for an additional $60, a personalized plaque will be displayed on the tree. The mature specimens, a mixture of oaks, elms, and maples, will be planted throughout Belmont Park, including one in the children's garden at Anna House that will be dedicated to the memory of owner-breeder Richard Bomze, who died on March 11. Bomze had been a benefactor of the organization since its inception.

"Belmont Park is well-known for its beautiful trees, and a plant-a-tree fundraiser seemed like a natural fit," said Stuart Chenkin, the BCCA's development assistant. "It started with a seed of an idea and just blossomed from there. When we asked NYRA for permission to do the fundraiser, they not only gave us permission but said they would donate the trees and plant them as well. We couldn't be more grateful."

Anna House is open every day of the year and provides services for approximately 70 children between the ages of 6 weeks and 5 years. Open from 5 a.m. until 1 p.m. to accommodate the early-morning work schedule of backstretch employees, Anna House offers early childhood literacy, math, and science programs, and also has an after-school tutoring program for elementary and middle school students.

"With our early childhood education program, the children of backstretch workers have a head start for elementary school," said BCCA executive director Donna Chenkin. "This fundraiser will help to beautify Belmont Park and help the children of Anna House."

Anna House opened in 2003 and was named in appreciation of a $1 million donation from Thoroughbred owners Laura and Eugene Melnyk, whose daughter's name is Anna.