As area students hungrily await the end of the school year, many parents are faced with a child care dilemma during the summer months.
However, the Salvation Army's Boys and Girls Club may have the answer for many families. The local charity is preparing to kick off its annual summer program June 4.
Boys and Girls Club program director Sonnet Hildebrand said the program is expected to serve approximately 150 area children between the ages of 6 and 18 years, and with a new facility ready to go, the program will have even more to offer this year.
â€śWe've settled into the new facility now,â€ť Hildebrand said. â€śWe're still waiting for some of the furnishings to get here ... We're hoping everything will be here before the program starts, but we'll be ready, either way.
â€śWe'll be able to offer so much more for the kids to do this summer. We're planning to hold basketball and soccer tournaments and we'll have pool tables, air hockey and ping pong for the kids to play. It's going to be a lot of fun for the kids in the program. We're also trying to work out some sort of splash day each week.â€ť
Hildebrand said her office began taking applications for the program May 1.
â€śWe still have about 50 spots left,â€ť she said. â€śThere are some folks who use the summer program every year, and they are almost always ready to sign their children up as soon as we start taking applications. They will go pretty fast.â€ť
The program will run from June 4 until Aug. 17, according to Hildebrand, Mondays through Fridays from 7:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.
â€śFor a lot of parents, daycare just isn't an option,â€ť said Hildebrand. â€śThe charge will be $50 a month, which is $125 for the entire summer program, which is within the reach of most parents.â€ť
And while the program is certainly a God-send for many of the area's working parents, Hildebrand said it's also a chance for the children to learn and grow.
â€śFor a lot of these children, the alternative is pretty bleak,â€ť she said. â€śBoys & Girls Club gives them a chance to participate in arts and crafts, sports and other activities that will help them grow as people. If they weren't participating in the program, however, many of them might be getting into trouble or causing problems in the community. So it not only provides a much-needed service to the parents and the children, it also helps keep these kids off the streets and out of trouble. We feel like that's very important.â€ť
Hildebrand said lunches will be provided during the first month, and after that, the children will be expected to bring a sack lunch.
â€śThe first month we'll be busing the kids to Goliad Intermediate for lunch,â€ť she said. â€śAfter that, the children will be responsible for bringing their own lunch. There are no financial restrictions to be met or anything like that. Once the program is full, there will be a waiting list in case any of the children drop out. Anyone who is interested can contact me for more information.â€ť
For more on the program, contact Hildebrand at 264-7344.