Aera Energy on Monday announced a $100,000 donation to help provide childcare for essential workers locally during the coronavirus pandemic, and the company is challenging businesses and individuals to collectively match its donation.

The money was given to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Kern County, which normally operates after-school programs but is now providing child care for people who must go to work as well as meals for children not in school.

"We're providing for families who must work in order to continue employment," said Zane Smith, executive director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Kern County.

The club is providing care for kids ages 5 to 13 from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. at its three center — two in Bakersfield and one in Lamont. About 100 children are currently being cared for and the program can accommodate up to about 250. The club is also providing thousands of meals to students daily, including on Saturdays and Sundays starting this weekend.

In addition to health care workers and first responders, child care service is also available for parents who are essential employees for the city or county, parents who work at grocery stores or stores like Walmart, and those who must work and have no other childcare options. 

"As a corporate partner, we believe in showing up for neighbors and friends in both the good times and the challenging times,” said Christina Sistrunk, president and CEO of Aera Energy, in a news release. “...We hope this matching gift will encourage others to join us in supporting the tireless work the organization is putting in to help our local families during their most critical time of need.”

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