Boys & Girls Club needs your assistance

Published 12:02 am Sunday, November 14, 2010

NATCHEZ — The Boys & Girls Club of the Miss-Lou has a chance to double its money, but first it needs help from you.

If the local club raises $10,000 in donations and pledges by the end of November, the national chapter will match the funds.

“That $10,000 matched by the other $10,000 is huge,” club board member Jennifer Ogden Combs said. “The clubs have had to cut back so much due to a really dramatic loss in funding this year. We are scrambling for every possible grant.”

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As of Thursday, 212 children were enrolled in the Miss-Lou club, with the majority gathering daily after school at Margaret Martin School on Homochitto Street.

All students who attend the club spend time doing homework and academic studies with the help of teachers. They also participate in enrichment programs on exercise, health, leadership, abstinence, conflict resolution, peer pressure and more.

The students have access to a computer lab. And, of course, when the work is done, they can have fun.

“In order for kids to come do the fun stuff, like play basketball, they sign agreements that they will do homework and participate in all the programs,” Combs said.

The program’s only full-time employee is Director Fay Minor. Some teachers get minimal wages, Combs said, but many volunteers also help keep the program alive.

The club has struggled financially in recent years, closing its doors over the summer in 2009.

The current economic situation isn’t making things any easier, Combs said.

“We, like a lot of other places, are experiencing a lot more need for kids and families because of what is happening in the economy,” she said. “Both parents work, or one parent left town to find work, and the kids don’t have a place to be.”

Though the fundraising challenge comes on short notice, board members are hopeful the community will step up.

Several corporate donors have agreed to donate, and challenged other businesses around them, Combs said.

But every individual donation is needed.

“Every $5 gets us closer to it,” she said.

“What we are trying to do with the urgency of this is asking you, ‘If you don’t know the value of the club, let us tell you.’ People that know what the club is get that it is something really important to the kids and community. It ultimately affects the vitality of the community to have healthy, better educated kids.”

Donations or pledges can be sent to P.O. Box 781, Natchez, MS 39121.

The club can be reached at 601-304-5548.