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Oyster roast this weekend

All-you-can-eat roasted oysters, barbecue and all the fixings are on the menu Saturday at the Suffolk unit of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Virginia’s eighth annual fundraiser.

About 500 people are expected for the event, said Phil McPhail, who with Leroy Bennett is co-chair of the Suffolk unit’s local advisory board.

“It’s our only fundraiser, so it’s very important,” McPhail said. “It also gives us an opportunity to showcase our boys and girls.”

The event will take place from 5 to 8 p.m. at Constant’s Wharf Park, 110 E. Constance Road. Tickets, available at the door for $30, include two drink tickets. The Island Boy Band will provide entertainment, and some of the young people from the club will also be featured during the band’s break.

The Boys & Girls Club, housed in Suffolk at John F. Kennedy Middle School, operates after school and during the summer. It has an average daily attendance of about 120, McPhail said.

Children ages 6 to 18 are eligible to attend and receive a meal, homework help and other enrichment activities such as arts and crafts.

The youngsters also participate in groups and activities that help them develop good character and citizenship, healthy lifestyles and the skills needed for academic success, McPhail said.

“I think it is important to have a safe haven for our young people after school, to give them a good, positive environment,” he said. “A lot of these children would get off the bus and go to an empty house.”

Membership in the club costs $15 a month plus a $20 annual fee during the school year, McPhail said.

The current unit director, LaMarr Coles III, grew up in the club, worked there as an older teen and young adult and now leads the unit.

“He is such a positive influence for our young people and a tireless leader,” McPhail said.

McPhail said the fundraiser helps provide opportunities for youngsters who may not otherwise be able to have them.

“I want all of our young people in Suffolk to have a good chance to succeed,” he said.