Money raised by local businesses and more than 100 volunteers for the 2013 Strong Kids Scholarship Fund will enable local residents to participate in YMCA programs, regardless of their ability to pay, according to the group's leaders.
Margaret Roberts, chief volunteer officer at the YMCA, said during a campaign kickoff luncheon Wednesday that every penny is needed to fund the programs offered by the YMCA.
“I think one of the best things about the YMCA is that we don’t turn anyone away if they can’t afford a program,” Roberts said.
Ann Welch, co-chair of the 2013 YMCA Strong Kids Scholarship Fund Campaign, said she feels strongly about the fundraiser because “it affects the lives of our children.”
Welch said after-school programs for children are important and needed in Calhoun County. The YMCA after-school program provides supervision, snacks and homework help during the school year and fun activities during summer months for local children.
“That’s invaluable to people that need this type of service and it makes a difference in the lives of these children,” Welch said.
Last year the fundraiser exceeded its goal of $160,000 by $1,278. Those funds helped 1,622 people take part in swim lessons, summer camps, after-school programs and fitness membership. As of Wednesday, volunteers had already collected $106,882 and met 59 percent of their goal. The fundraiser will end on Feb. 20.
Anniston Mayor Vaughn Stewart made his donation and recalled fond memories of Saturdays spent at the YMCA during his youth.
“If a place ever helped mold me, this place did it. It was my second home. I got more youth development training here than any other institution I was involved in,” Stewart said.
Stewart said he’s reminded how important after-school programs are when he visits local elementary schools and thinks about how some students are more likely to go to prison than college.
“Youth development is a key need in this community and we must continue to reach out,” Stewart said.
Staff Writer Rachael Griffin: 256-235-3562. On Twitter @RGriffin_Star.