Feeling a financial pinch, the Boys & Girls Club of the Highland Lakes has launched a “just ask” campaign for donations.
The Highland Lakes organization’s budget has been stretched thin with the cancellation of the annual Buckaroo Ball, one of its biggest fundraisers, and after opening its doors in the spring to children of essential workers as the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
“We were open starting right after Spring Break, about 10 hours a day for five days a week,” said Terri Wilkes, the club’s director of resource development. “We did 19 weeks of full summer programming, where we usually do 10, and with our biggest fundraiser canceled.”
She explained that the club usually only operates after-school programs in the spring.
“We’re asking for the community’s help,” Wilks said.
People can make donations through the club’s website.
Wilkes said the organization only charges families $15 a month for up to five children.
“There’s no place else around here that charges that little,” she added.
Even if a family can’t afford the $15, they are not turned away.
The club isn’t a day care; it provides a wealth of programs in a safe and healthy environment. During the school year, the club offers supervised programs during the pivotal hours of 4-7 p.m., when, if left unsupervised, kids could get into mischief.
Wilkes added that national Boys & Girls Club research determined that for every dollar donated or spent on a local club or unit, there’s a $9.60 return on investment back to the community.
According to the research, about 75 percent of club members pursue a post-secondary education and a majority make healthier decisions and don’t take part in riskier behavior such as smoking and drugs. Better education also means club members have a better chance of landing a good job.
This benefits local communities as well.
In March, after schools closed to in-person learning and Gov. Greg Abbott issued a stay-home order, essential workers remained on the job. The Boys & Girls Club of the Highland Lakes opened its doors to children of health care staff and other essential workers such as grocery store employees.
This meant increased staffing and 10-hour days, a full-time, summer-style session in the spring.
Now that school has restarted, the hours aren’t as long but the club is still busy.
The Boys & Girls Club of the Highland Lakes operates several units: Marble Falls, 1701 Broadway; Burnet, 709 Northington; Kingsland, 150 Pioneer Lane; Granite Shoals at Highland Lakes Elementary, 8200 RR 1431; and Llano at Llano Elementary, 1600 Oatman St. Another unit is opening soon. The club also runs a teen center in Burnet, 601 N. Wood St., and is starting one in Llano.
“I don’t think people realize we have that many units,” Wilkes said.
Even with that many locations, the Highland Lakes club has a waiting list of kids who want to join.
“There is a need for the Boys & Girls Club,” Wilkes said, “but we need the community’s help. So, we’re just asking for donations. They can go to our website and donate right there.”