Lending a helping hand

It’s 4:50 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon; the Boys and Girls club in Ruston is full of vibrant children ages 6-12 running around the gym. Two of those children, seven-year-old Lauren Washington and her eight-year-old friend Jayla Harris, are enjoying a game of wall ball.

The children are supervised by the staff at the club, and are having a good time.

“The Boys and Girls Club is a safe place for kids to interact and it keeps kids out of trouble,” said El Donta’ Osborne, executive director of the Boys and Girls Club.

A place were kids go for a safe haven and structured activates had $30,000 cut from their budget by Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindall.

Many people were shocked that Jindall cut money from the Boys and Girls Club. Santora Black, who is Grambling Sports Radio Network director, was a member of the Boys and Girls club in Wisconsin, said that he shocked that money was cut from a program that helps kids become better people.

Black also said that if we don’t want to leave no child behind, why wouldn’t we let them get ahead?

Osborne said that he was caught off guard because the Boys and Girls Club has received the same type of funding for the past three years. He still has a hard time wondering why their funding was cut.

When the Grambling Sports Radio Network found out what happened, they wanted to do all they could to help.

The Sports Radio Network put their heads together and came up with the Penny Drive. The network set out to collect cash donations at sporting events on campus. Their goal was to raise $500; however thanks to great planning and donations by fans and spectators, the club raised over $700. The Network raised the funds between August and October.

This fund raiser was not only important to the Boys and Girls club but to the Sports Radio Network.

“Everyone knew how important this drive was to the Northern Louisiana Boys and Girls Club. We just wanted to make sure that we could help out as much as we can,” said Danyale Brown, public relations coordinator of the Grambling Sports Radio Network.

Even though the Radio Network has raised over $700, that is only a drop in the bucket when one has to replace $30,000.

Osborne said that the decrease in funds has forced the Boys and Girls club to spend less money, look for alternative ways to come up with the money and sometimes even go without.

However, it has not changed how Osborne and his staff works with their kids.

Osborne and his staff does the best that they can to make sure the kids have a good time.

Osborne said that besides money, he needs volunteers. He currently has a staff of about 15 people, while the program has about 100 children.

Osborne feels that the Boys and Girls Club keeps kids out of trouble. It gives kids a structured atmosphere were they have positive role models to look up to.

He said that research shows that if a child has a positive role model and safe place to go when their parents are at work, they turn out to be better individuals in society.

The club has maintained very well during these difficult financial times but they need help from the government and the community.

If anyone would like to donate any type of equipment or monetary donations, call El Donta Osborne at 318-255-2242, or email him at oentrpss@cox-internet.com.