The Lehigh Carbon Community College SHINE After-School program needs your help.

SHINE, which stands for Schools And Homes In Education, serves elementary school aged children in Carbon and Schuylkill counties. It has entered the Pepsi "Refresh Everything" online competition, in hope of winning the opportunity to receive up to $50,000 to help create a "Positive Action" bully-free zone in the schools.

According to the overview section of the project's Web site, "The 'Positive Action' program works toward building a positive self-esteem and to decrease the incidents of bullying behavior in schools. ... In schools where the program has been implemented, teachers and parents have witnessed a dramatic reduction in negative behaviors. ... It takes money to run and state funding is at an all-time low due to the economy."

The organization is asking that residents visit [1] and click on "Vote for this idea." A pop-up screen will appear that asks you to sign in or create a new account. To vote, you will have to create an account, which includes submitting your name, e-mail address, and birth date.

Once an account is created, you can vote daily until Feb. 28. The top 10 ideas will receive funding through the Pepsi grant program.

LCCC and SHINE program officials are urging everyone to help make this program a reality for hundreds of elementary school children.

Jeanne Miller, director of Carbon and Schuylkill County Educational Services at LCCC and co-chairperson of the SHINE program, said the grant could help make a difference in the lives of many.

"The Pepsi Refresh Everything (program) provides the opportunity for the Lehigh Carbon Community SHINE After-school academic enrichment program to highlight activities that are making a difference in the lives of children and families it serves," she said. "Integrating a creative, research based anti-bullyingprogram into SHINE has resulted in increased academic achievement, family involvement, decrease in incidents of bullying behavior, and give children the confidence they need to succeed.

"The LCCC after-school program is supported through the Partners for Progress Carbon County Child and Family Collaborative and is a community success story. Every kid needs to feel good about him or herself and needs to feel safe. Your vote can help make this happen."

The Lehigh Carbon Community College SHINE After-School program serves children in six public schools and four parochial schools from Carbon and Schuylkill counties.

Children in the program are from pre-kindergarten to fourth grade.

The program was created to provide children with academic support, as well as build self-esteem and make stronger family bonds.

The program organizes many events throughout the year as a way to teach the students necessary skills in everyday situations, as well as give them the opportunity to build lasting friendships.