Steak and Stake to raise funds, honor children

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 2, 2008

NATCHEZ — The annual Boys & Girls Clubs of the Miss-Lou Steak and Stake awards ceremony has a multi-fold purpose; get a steak and make a stake in a child’s life.

The dinner, which is 6:30 p.m., Thursday at the Natchez Convention Center is a fundraiser to aid in the many facets of the program.

John Ball, president of the board of the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Miss-Lou, said this year they hope to raise $20,000.

Email newsletter signup

The money is raised through buying tickets for the steak dinner or through corporate donations.

Jennifer Ogden, active volunteer in the club, said that the average cost for a child to be in the club is $365.

This is because the child just doesn’t just receive tutoring, but also can participate in many of the other programs that target art, health and life skills, character and leadership development and recreation.

But the tutoring itself does cost money.

“It’s not kids tutoring kids,” Ogden said. “It’s teachers that work on a part-time basis.”

Ogden emphasized that the money raised by the awards ceremony remains local.

“The money that’s donated and the money that’s raised at Steak and Stake stays local,” Ogden said. “It doesn’t go to the (National) Boys and Girls Club. The money that we donate really serves our kids and our community.”

One of the other purposes the steak dinner has is to honor and celebrate the children in the program who have done an exceptional job.

“It’s an evening to celebrate the successes the kids have had over the year and honor the kids that have had the highest grade point average, highest improvement in schools, attendance and participation in community service,” Ogden said.

Ball said it truly is an honor for the kids to be invited. Between 100 and 125 have been invited.

“The kids that are invited, they have to earn the right to come to this,” Ball said. “Of course every kid can’t be invited and the ones that are invited are the ones that meet the criteria. It’s an honor for them to be asked to come.”

The biggest award given during Steak and Stake is the Youth of the Year award.

Ogden said the candidates for this award have certain criteria to meet in attendance, leadership skills, attitude, education and more. The candidates also must be nominated and are required to write several essays.

Whoever is chosen as Youth of the Year at the awards ceremony will compete at the state level.

Finally, Steak and Stake is a celebration — not only of the boys and girls’ achievements, but also the club; which serves over 4,000 children in the Miss-Lou, including Vicksburg, Hazlehurst and Jefferson County.

The Miss-Lou has five clubs that meet in Martin, Morgantown, McLaurin, Frazier schools and the Sunshine Children’s Center.

It is not happenstance that the ceremony falls during National Boys and Girls Club Week.

“It seemed really appropriate and fitting that the main celebratory and fundraising event be during the National Boys and Girls Club Week,” Ogden said.

The guest speaker will be Von Hutchins, a Natchez native who played football at Cathedral High School and who is now playing for the Atlanta Falcons in the NFL.

Also, the Morgantown Maestros, a singing and dancing group, will give a performance.