Parents react to liquor store`s scholarship offer - FOX 32 News Chicago

Books and booze? Parents react to liquor store`s scholarship offer

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Two students at McDade Classical School in Chatham will receive a $500 scholarship each from an unlikely donor--a liquor store.

The charitable gesture from Happy Liquor and Foods in Chatam has some parents unhappy.

"A liquor store offering scholarships? I don't know because this is the first time I've heard of it… I do have concerns that it's coming from a liquor store because I don't know, what is their motive? what is their incentive? I would rather it be from somewhere with greater things for the kids," said Stacey Ellis, a mother of a student at McDade.

"From a liquor store, that doesn't sound like something that I would want to take a scholarship from… That's just not, it just doesn't sound good," said Lashandria Sanderson, a mother of a student at McDade.

Once considered a troubled business that was forced to shut down shop for three months in 2011 due to building code violations, Happy Liquor Store Manager Juan Alvarez and owner Nick Voutiritsas say the academic-based scholarships are just one part of a massive push to change the family-owned operation's image.

"We had a bad image and we wanted to clean up our image so we decided to give out some scholarships. We're giving them out at McDade to the smartest sixth grader, the smartest in math and the smartest in science," said Juan Alvarez, a manager at Happy Liquor Store.

For the second year in a row, the forty year old business has granted scholarships to two McDade students. A long-time customer tells Fox 32's Tisha Lewis the liquor store, which also sells food, has a long history of giving back.

"They pass out school supplies sometimes at school, they do a lot of different little things here," said Tina Gold.

Voutiritsas says Happy Liquor Store also stopped selling high gravity beers and wines, malt liquor and blunt-style cigars often associated with marijuana use.

"Which used to create a lot of chaos in here so we see a big difference… We got security here, we cleaned the outside of the store and we also, inside we remodeled the place," said Voutiritsas.

"I think it's a better thing if all the stores and everybody in the community started saying, hey, let's help out even if it's one child or two children, three children, four children, by the time you get the snowball effect it will make a big difference," said Alvarez.

McDade Classical School was selected to receive the scholarship by 6th District Alderman Roderick Sawyer. The school's principal has not yet reponsded to a request seeking comment. The students will receive the scholarship at an awards ceremony in June.

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