Event raises money for Boys and Girls Clubs

Published 9:28 pm Monday, October 1, 2012

Jerry Wilson, left, and Chris Cook shuck oysters at the Boys and Girls Clubs Barbecue and Oyster Roast fundraiser on Saturday. The third annual event was the best-ever turnout, organizers said.

Guests at the Boys and Girls Clubs Barbecue and Oyster Roast on Saturday were able to feast on oysters, North Carolina-style barbecue, baked beans and adult beverages.

But the food was far from the most important reason for being there, or even the most important part of the night. Both of those slots belonged to the young people.

Teenaged members of the Suffolk Unit put on a program that included reading the Boys and Girls Clubs mission, telling how the club has helped them and singing “God Bless America.”

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David Zobel, executive director of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Southeast Virginia, said the turnout for the third annual event was the best so far, even with overcast skies.

“It’s a great turnout tonight,” he said. “I think this is the largest turnout we’ve had. We want folks to come out and have a good time and support the clubs and see the kids.”

The Boys and Girls Clubs offers a safe place for kids to stay on weekdays after school and during the summer. But it’s far more than a babysitter — the club, located at John F. Kennedy Middle School, provides homework time, a meal every day, fitness and arts activities, academic enrichment, mentoring and more.

“Every last one of the kids that comes in the door, they get an experience every day,” Zobel said during Saturday’s program. “They are there for those kids 100 percent.”

In addition to Reggie Carter, the director of the Suffolk Unit, there are several youth mentors. One is LaMarr Coles, who grew up in the Suffolk Unit himself and now takes time from his studies at Old Dominion University to work with the kids.

“Each and every one of the kids has potential,” he said. “I thank God every day He’s allowing me to pour into their lives.”

Zobel said the club needs members of the community to help the Boys and Girls Clubs, whether through giving donations or reading to the kids through the KidsLit program funded by Dollar General.

“This is what we need to keep Boys and Girls Clubs going in Suffolk,” Zobel said.

For more information on the clubs, visit www.bgcseva.org.

To see more photos from the event, visit our Facebook page.