A closer look at the Boys & Girls Club of Boca Raton–and its neighboring Clubs–and why, when it comes to holiday gift giving, they need help this year more than ever
We all remember needing a snack after school, doing our homework and running outside to play. For some children, that all happens at home. But for many kiddos, heading home after school isn’t an option–because no one else is there yet.
This is where the Boys & Girls Club of Boca Raton comes in. It is one of 17 Boys & Girls Clubs throughout Palm Beach County, and one of over 4000 Boys & Girls Clubs across America serving children ages 6-18.
The Clubs provide a place for children to go to each day after school that is a safe, fun and constructive alternative to being home alone.
The Clubs are also where dozens of children will receive their only gift of the holiday season, and where many have their only opportunity to play an organized sport throughout the school year. Boys & Girls Club field trips to The Boca Raton for tennis lessons, fitness and fun allow for just that.
“The reason why I love signing up for tennis is because I get to learn to play new sports and stuff. I challenged the club director, Mr. Milton. He’s overconfident,” says a young man named Dylan with a laugh. He has been a part of the Boca Raton Club for six years.
Executive Boca Raton Club Director Milton Ortiz says every child qualifies for the program. The children participate in academic, athletic and art programs and receive support in many ways including social and emotional learning.
“When you see them leaving with a smile, they give you a hug and say ‘Thank you, Mr. Milton,’ that’s the pay off at the end of the day,” Ortiz shared.
Ortiz says Club staff members like Garvey Antoine are the true superheroes. Antoine, 18, is a criminal justice major at Florida Atlantic University studying to be a lawyer. He grew up in the Boys & Girls Club of Boca Raton program, starting at the age of 6.
“I feel like it changes your life for the better and it kind of steers you away from the wrong things and it’ll make a difference for sure,” says Antoine.
According to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County, 95% of Club members live at or below poverty level and depend on the Clubs for extra assistance. Many of the families haven’t recovered from the pandemic, which is why community support–whether it be time volunteered, donations or holiday gift giving–makes such a significant difference.
GL Homes has partnered with Boys & Girls Club of Palm Beach County to launch a holiday gift toy drive to collect toys and teen-appropriate gifts for Club members from the 17 Boys & Girls Clubs across the county. The gift drive will begin November 1 and run until December 10. Gifts will be distributed at each Club’s holiday party.
Gift givers can participate virtually and purchase gifts from the Clubs’ online Amazon wish list or purchase a gift from the Clubs’ online wish list and drop the items off at various in-person sites county-wide. For the online wish lists and drop-off sites, visit Today’s Paige, The Blog at https://www.paigekornblue.com/todays-paige.
Boys & Girls Club of Boca Raton is also in need of volunteers for its November Thanksgiving dinner and its Christmas party in December. Call 561/994-7551 for more information.