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 has an answer, as the local charity prepares to kick off its annual summer program June 10.
Boys and Girls Club program director Duane Shackelford said the program is expected to serve approximately 120 to 140 area children between the ages of 5 years and 18 years, and with a new facility ready to go, the program will have even more to offer this year.
“We're really excited about the program,” Shackelford said. “This will be my first year with the Big Spring Boys and Girls Club, but it certainly isn't my first rodeo. I was the director of the Fannin Boys and Girls Club in Abilene for 15 years, so I have plenty of experience dealing with the kids. I really feel like we're going to have a good time.
“We have a lot to offer this year, especially with the newly constructed gymnasium and facilities. We'll have athletic games in the gym, arts and crafts, game room activities, reading, movies … you name it and it's likely we'll have it. The children will have more than enough to do this summer.”
Shackelford said his office is already taking applications for the annual program.
“We expect to accept between 120 to 140 children for the summer program,” he said. “It's a first come, first served situation, so parents really shouldn't procrastinate or put off signing their children up.”
The program will run from June 10 until Aug. 16, according to Shackelford, Mondays through Fridays from 7:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.
“For a lot of parents, daycare just isn't an option,” Shackelford said. “The charge will be $50 a month, which is $125 for the entire three-month summer program, which is within the reach of most parents. It's certainly less than what most child care facilities charge.”
And while the program is certainly a God-send for many of the area's working parents, Shackelford said it's also a chance for the children to learn and grow.
“For a lot of these children, the alternative is pretty bleak,” he said. “Boys & 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.”
The summer program provides an opportunity for area parents and children, Shackelford said, as well as an opportunity for area residents looking for part time employment.
“We're looking to hire several part time and temporary employees to help out with the summer program,” Shackelford said. “This is an opportunity for everyone, because it helps to educate our employees on dealing with children, plus, it looks really good on your resume.”
Shackelford said lunches will be provided during the first several weeks — approximately 8 weeks — and after that, the children will be expected to bring a sack lunch.
“The first several weeks, we'll be busing the kids to Big Spring High School for lunch Mondays through Thursdays,” he said. “After 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.”
For more information on the program, contact Shackelford at 432-264-7344.