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Donations help keep struggling club afloat

December 28, 2004|by TRISH RUDDER

trishr@herald-mail.com

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. - The Morgan County Boys & Girls Club will spend a recent donation on general operating costs, its director said last week.

The club earlier this month received a $4,000 donation from Berkeley Springs Moose Lodge 1483, and will use the money to keep the struggling club afloat, Director Chris Risinger said.

About $11,000 a month is needed to operate the club, he said. The annual fund-raising mail campaign last fall brought in about $14,000 from the community. The club received no federal funds in 2004 and funding from a private foundation has ended.

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Risinger said all three Boys & Girls Clubs in the Eastern Panhandle are struggling financially. He said plans are in the works for the clubs in Jefferson, Berkeley and Morgan counties to merge into the Eastern Panhandle Boys & Girls Club. The merger possibly could be made in March or April.

"It will strengthen us," he said.

Housed in an old school building with other county offices and the county senior center, the Morgan County Boys & Girls Club has a game room, a learning center, a computer lab and space for arts and crafts.

The club is open after school Mondays through Fridays from 3 to 7 p.m. and has more than 150 members. Fifty members are teenagers and 100 are age 12 and younger. Risinger said 65 younger members and more than 25 teen members participate each day.

The club does not have a "school atmosphere," but it has structure to it, Risinger said. "The kids have a choice to participate."

The club offers programs such as Smart Moves, which helps to elevate self-esteem and combats bullying, and the Torch Club, which is a service and leadership club.

Five years ago, Risinger started working at the Martinsburg, W.Va., boys and girls club as the program coordinator and said "he made a difference with a couple of the kids."

Now the Boys & Girls Club director in Morgan County, Risinger said the membership has "tripled" at the Berkeley Springs club.

Risinger said new programs are being developed for the club, including Ala-non for Teens and Overeaters Anonymous. A community service program is in the works that will match club members with senior citizens to help them with chores such as grass cutting or cleaning out the garage, he said.

Risinger said, "It is nice to have support from the businesses in town and they are taking more of an interest in the club."

Tony's Butcher Block has donated food for special events and Warm Springs Restaurant sold tickets for the club's annual Apple Butter Festival duck race, he said.

This summer, $1,200 was raised by the Down and Dirty Softball Challenge between local businesses The Rag Shop and Tari's Caf. Tari's Caf staff members won the softball game and have challenged Homeopathy Works for next summer with the proceeds going to the Boys and Girls Club.

Risinger said Tari's Caf is the "first business that has thrown their support solely behind the Boys & Girls Club."

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