The Boys and Girls Club distributes fresh produce boxes to families. (submitted photo)

The current global pandemic is touching many corners of our society, and the Boys & Girls Club programs are no exception. With the virus’ closure of schools and Clubhouses, club leaders are looking for innovative ways to support kids and families.

The nonprofit operates eight clubhouses, sports teams, and teen centers in addition to a Health & Dental Services Center. Currently, they serve over 15,000 youth, many of whom are from economically disadvantaged homes, qualify for free or reduced lunch, and live in single-parent households.

“Serving local kids might look a little different right now, but our kids still need us, and we’re committed to doing whatever it takes,” says Sue Bloom, CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of Salem, Marion and Polk Counties. “We are walking alongside our amazing community partners, coming together during this difficult time. We are  working to address our families’ most critical needs, including supporting distance learning, teen workforce development, and virtual programs.” 

With summer break quickly approaching, the stress, hardships, and uncertainty for many families continues to grow, making the mission of the Boys & Girls Club more critical. In any other year, kids would be eagerly anticipating that last school bell. Still, to the surprise of parents all around, kids are wishing to be in school more than ever, craving social interaction, structure, and support of caring adults. 

At such a time, the Boys & Girls Club relies heavily on the community to support programs, ensuring the continuation and expansion of critical response work, including:

-Distributing food, school supplies, dental care kits, and other necessary resources directly to kids and families.

-Work toward opening clubhouses to provide full-day summer programs, on a smaller scale, to those in greatest need, including supporting learning benchmarks in reading, math, and social-emotional learning.

-Providing individual mentoring and virtual youth development programming for youth at home this summer to remain connected, feel supported, learn, and build skills.

-Engaging teens in workforce development opportunities and helping high school students’ path to graduation.

Contribute to the cause--here are some current donation needs:

-School supplies (pencils, markers, wide-ruled paper, colored pencils, notebooks, etc.).

-Arts and craft supplies.

-Games and prizes for kids.

Contact Elizabeth to make donation arrangements at [email protected] or 503-581-7383x10.

Mary Louise VanNatta is a Salem public relations professional writing regularly for Salem Reporter.  During the quarantine, she will be connecting with Salem nonprofits.  Tell her about your nonprofit needs at [email protected] and follow her on Facebook.