Wednesday, December 23, 2015

TOP STORY >> Gwatney donates $15,000

Leader staff writer

Gwatney Chevrolet in Jacksonville helped the Boys and Girls Club of Jacksonville with a $15,000 donation on Tuesday.

The Boys and Girls Club was also presented with a $100 check from Mark Perry with Modern Woodmen of America for being selected as a Hometown Hero by the company.

The donations are especially timely, as the nonprofit will not receive money in 2016 from the Jacksonville Advertising and Promotion Commission.

The Boys and Girls Club budget for 2016 is $87,000.

The club requested $30,000 from the A&P Commission. But, according to a recent ruling, the state Constitution prohibits the “appropriation of money by municipal corporations to private corporations.”

In 2015, the Boys and Girls Club received $9,500 from the A&P commission.

“It is huge for the club. It will go a long way. Our memberships are $30 a year. We are looking at different fundraisers and sponsorships from businesses,” Boys and Girls Club director Laura Walker said.

Mayor Gary Fletcher said the city owns the building and it is available for use by churches and groups as a meeting place. He added that the city cannot pay the nonprofit employees’ salaries and their benefits.

“The Boys and Girls Club needs to be more self-sufficient. The community and businesses need to recognize the value the Boys and Girls Club plays in the development of our children and youth. Boys and Girls Clubs are time-tested,” Fletcher said.

The mayor also said the city recognizes the value of taking kids off the streets and into a facility that can meet their needs.

The Boys and Girls Club had 357 members, ages 6 to 18, in 2015.

It is open five days a week after school and on Saturdays during the basketball season. The club is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. during holiday breaks from school and summer.

Gwatney Chevrolet public-relations manager Brad West said, “It is a no-brainer to get behind this. Gwatney has been in business in Jacksonville since 1957 and has grown with the community. The Boys and Girls Club started in the early 1970s at an old church building by Jacksonville Elementary. The community has been unbelievably good to Gwatney, and we wanted to support these kids. It needs the community’s help.”

West also said he attended the club as a youth and is now the vice chairman of its board.

The nonprofit also offers meals, mentoring, tutoring and teaches life skills.