EASTSIDE : Golfers Lend Hand to Scholarship Drive

It didn't matter if they bogeyed or birdied, the real winners weren't even on the course that day.

A record 140 players teed off in the sixth annual Andy Vargas Scholarship Golf Tournament and raised $10,000 for the graduates of Glen Alta Elementary School in Montecito Heights. The money will go to the school's alumni who earn their high school diplomas and are accepted to a vocational school, community college or university.

"This is like a dream come true," Vargas said, as he opened the tournament amid sunny skies and good humor April 22 at the Montebello Country Club.

Vargas, who lives in Monterey Park, has long been a supporter of Eastside schools and charitable causes. He adopted Glen Alta, at 3410 Sierra St., through the Los Angeles Unified School District's Adopt-a-School program in 1985 and established the scholarship fund with proceeds from the recycling of aluminum cans.

Three years later, Vargas won the $5.28-million grand prize in California's Super Lotto game, enabling him to donate more money to the fund, starting with $20,000 from his first check. Additional funds have been raised through his annual golf tournament.

This year, scholarship money will be awarded to 10 Lincoln High School graduates who attended Glen Alta, said Vera Padilla, Lincoln career adviser and work experience coordinator. Last year, the first time Vargas handed out scholarships, 17 former Glen Alta students were recipients.

There were 15 other students from Glen Alta who would have been in this year's Lincoln graduating class, she said, but they dropped out because of pregnancy or other problems.

"It does help," Padilla said of the scholarship. "But what happens to those that it doesn't help? There really isn't a lot of mentoring for them. They're in limbo when they get into junior high and high school. They're lost."

The scholarships are awarded according to the schools that students attend. Those who plan to attend community college or a trade school will receive $500; those going to a California State school will receive $750; and students who plan to attend a University of California institution receive $1,000.

Glen Alta Principal James A. Allen, explaining that grades are not considered in the selection process, said, "We try to promote productive adults."

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