The Zonta Club of Charles County has donated $15,000 to the College of Southern Maryland to benefit the Children's Learning Center under construction at the La Plata campus.

"Zonta's mission is to raise the status of women, and the club felt that supporting the center, which will allow local women to advance their education by providing child-care opportunities, was a perfect way to fulfill that goal," Denise Gray, the Zonta president in Charles, said in a statement from the college. Gray presented a check to the college's president, Elaine Ryan, and CSM Foundation Chairman Evelyn Hungerford.

The Children's Learning Center project is in part a response to a survey in which students listed "finding acceptable child care" among the top five issues they face. Other issues include finances and job-related responsibilities. More than 80 percent of the community college's students work at least 11 hours per week.

The center is intended to provide learning experiences for child development students and quality child care at a reasonable cost, said Michelle Goodwin, the college's executive director of advancement. A number of slots will be reserved for students, who will be charged a lower rate. The remaining seats will be available to the community on a first-come, first-served basis.

Zonta is an international organization established in 1919 to raise the status of women worldwide. Zonta members volunteer their time and resources to local and international programs as well as sponsor and support award and scholarship programs. Zonta of Charles County, which was chartered in 1981, has more than 50 members.

The organization sponsors many fundraising activities, including Christmas Connection, the Charles County Women's Fair and Young Women in Public Affairs. Its annual fashion show is scheduled for Oct. 28.