Boys & Girls Club asking community to help them ‘Start the Bus’

Published 5:04 pm Friday, December 15, 2017

A local organization which provides much-needed services and programming to area children is in the midst of a critical fundraising drive, and they are asking the community for support.

This year, more than 500 kids walked through the doors of the Boys and Girls Club of Elizabethton/Carter County. That attendance level is more than the enrollment at many local schools.

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Providing services to that many children is only possible through the help of the community, according to Elizabeth Williams, Resource Development and Marketing Director for the Club.

“We have low membership fees and don’t turn away any child based on their family’s ability to pay, so truly, if it weren’t for the support of the community, we wouldn’t be here,” she said.

While the Club hosts different fundraisers throughout the year, the Club runs a critical fundraising campaign in December of each year.

This year, the campaign is raising money to run the Club’s transportation program, which allows the Club to pick up children from 11 city and county schools to participate in Club after-school activities, Williams said. The program also provides transportation to more than 100 field trips for Club members during the summer months.

A few years ago, the Club was serving at most 30 kids a day. But with the work of Club Executive Director Ginny Wright and her staff, coupled with tremendous support from the Club’s Board, that number has grown tremendously. Now, the Club serves up to 100 a day during the school year and more than 170 per day during the summer months.

“Our transportation program has allowed us to reach so many kids who needed us and who didn’t have access to us before,” Williams said. “Once those kids are in our doors, we are able to do the real work.”

The “real work” Williams is referring to are the multiple services the Club provides to the children each day — everything from nutritious meals to educational programs.

“We run a variety of programs designed to help our kids succeed academically, develop good character and citizenship, and live healthy lifestyles, and that doesn’t even include the 39,000 meals and snacks we’ve served this year,” Wright said.

Among the many services available for children at the Club are a daily homework help program called ‘Power Hour’ and an evidence-based physical education program called SPARK PE which is designed to get kids involved in an active lifestyle. During the summer months, the Club launched a new STEM program to help encourage children to explore the worlds of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.

The Club also works to help prepare older members for future careers and to step into leadership roles in their community. With the Junior Staff program, the Club’s ‘teens and tweens’ learn employment skills necessary to find and maintain successful careers.

However, despite the programs available to the kids, the Club cannot complete its mission if the children can’t make it to the Club.

“If it weren’t for the buses that pick up the kids each day, none of our work would be possible, so we are asking the community to help us raise the funds needed to run our buses in 2018,” Wright said.

The Club needs to raise $25,000 to support its transportation program. While the sum is large, Williams said it is definitely attainable, especially with the support which the local community has always shown the Club.

“Even $1 will make a difference — that’s all it takes to bus one child to the Club for an entire week, and $50 will bus a child for the entire year,” Williams said.

So far the community has generously given just over $8,000, Williams said, but with only 16 days left until the deadline, the Club is only one-third of the way towards their goal.

“I know we can raise this money because I’ve seen how the community will rally around its people, but it’s not going to be easy and it’s not going to happen if we don’t all step up,” Williams said.

If you want to help get kids to the Club in 2018, you can mail your donation to The Boys & Girls Club, 104 Hudson Drive, Elizabethton, TN 37643, or you can make your donation online at All mailed donations should include the memo “Start the Bus” and have your current mailing information. Williams noted that all donations were tax deductible, but to receive credit for the 2017 year, letters must be postmarked by 12/31/2017 or donations made online before midnight on Christmas Eve.