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Resident plans job fairs for needy teens

The benefits work both ways: teenagers find jobs and learn a work ethic, and a community wins by investing in the future of its youth.

That's the idea being pitched by Bob Loring, who also runs east Pasco's Toys for Tots drive every Christmas.

Loring said he was trying to think of a way to serve older children. The best way to do that, he thought, is to employ them.

"Hopefully," he said, "with an eye on future jobs and future ways of becoming full-service citizens."

Loring plans to stage a job fair later this spring to help needy and at-risk teenagers find summer jobs. It will probably be held at a high school, but the date and location are still to be determined.

So far, he has enlisted a big supporter: the Greater Wesley Chapel Chamber of Commerce. The group has committed to recruiting its members to attend the job fair, so teenagers can get some face time with potential employers.

"We're going to see if we can get our chamber members and the business people here in Wesley Chapel, and invite them out . . . and see if we can't help get some of those teens jobs for the summer," said Elayne Bassinger, the chamber's executive director.

"I agree with Bob that this is a positive step in helping the teens build up a healthy work ethic."

With more than 500 members, Bassinger said the chamber, which helped with last year's Toys for Tots drive, should be able to match up some teens with jobs.

"I would think there should be, at least in some of those companies, a need for part-time help," she said.

Loring hopes to generate more interest in the idea, and possibly organize multiple job fairs.

Next up, he'll pitch the idea in Dade City, where he plans to speak this evening at a mixer for that chamber's members.

"My philosophy is, each community's got to support its own poverty pocket," he said. "We're trying to hold up the banner for these children. Every community, if it really, really focused on these children, it could do a lot better for them."

Phyllis Smith, executive director of the Greater Dade City Chamber of Commerce, said she sees a need for more opportunities for youth.

"It could help the young people a lot if they're looking for summer jobs. Anything that would collectively list those would be great," she said.