Some children in Santa Monica didn’t wish for toys or luxuries for Christmas. Instead, they wished for basic necessities, like beds. To make the season brighter for these struggling families, board members and volunteers from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Monica delivered beds and other household items to several needy Club families just before the holiday, as part of the Club’s Family Assistance Program.
Other presents given to families Club staff identified as the most vulnerable include microwave ovens, pots and pans, a couch, a dresser and a payment of a gas bill. In addition, 800 children ages 6 to 18 across 10 clubhouse sites received presents collected from throughout the community, and another 150 children were chosen to receive new coats, shoes and other essentials from Sears, and got to shop for them with volunteer holiday helpers from the Santa Monica Police and Fire departments. The Family Assistance Program also gives more than 100 families a pre-cooked holiday dinner for six people, featuring their choice of turkey, ham or prime rib.
The 35-year-old program is co-chaired by Chris Harding, Mark Harding and Allan Young, and is supported by Club board members who raise funds throughout the year to purchase the items. The Club also collects new, donated items. “The program’s focus is to provide struggling families the necessities so many of us take for granted,” says Tim Blaylock, BGCSM president and CEO.
Beyond the holidays, the Club collects donations year-round through an annual community-wide campaign to keep the clubhouses operating, because the organization doesn’t charge program fees. The annual cost to deliver programs is about $1,000 per child. That includes after-school care and programs during school breaks and the summer.
“We serve all children at no cost their families, so we rely on, and are very grateful for, the generosity of the community that covers the cost of operations,” says Blaylock.
The Club also has corporate sponsorship and volunteer programs in which area companies and employees can be involved in mentoring, tutoring and service projects around the clubhouses. “Companies can adopt a program or an area of the clubhouse and really become involved. Some work directly with the kids, others help with facilities, equipment or other areas. It’s great for the morale of their employees and for teambuilding,” Blaylock says.
Individuals and companies wishing to donate can do so online at www.smbgc.org/give. Volunteer information is also on the website.
Through membership and outreach, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Monica currently serves approximately 4,000 youth across its 10 sites throughout Los Angeles County. Members come from 134 different ZIP codes, with the majority of members coming from Santa Monica, Culver City, Venice, West Los Angeles and Inglewood. For more information, visit www.smbgc.org or follow them on Facebook and Twitter.