Friday, August 25, 2017

TOP STORY >> Donors feed kids at club

Leader editor

The Jacksonville Boys and Girls Club has received an outpouring of community support after The Leader reported Wednesday the youth club wouldn’t be able to serve after-school meals because of a bureaucratic glitch with the state Department of Human Services. (See editorial, page 8.)

The club’s youngsters faced going without their usual after-school nourishment until October after DHS put the program on hold because of a contracting issue with vendors.

Bonnie McDonald, the mother of NFL player Clinton McDonald, who was once a member of the Jacksonville Boys and Girl Club, delivered a check for $1,000 on Friday to the club in behalf of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle’s charitable foundation, McDonald and Associates Collective Collaboration-Light Into Darkness Foundation, known as MACCLID.

The Jacksonville Lions Club donated $500 during a check presentation Friday.

Brian Blevins, owner of the Game Store on Main Street, reached out to several area businesses when he saw the Boys and Girls Club needed help. His efforts arranged donations from Subway, Papa John’s, Dominoes, Coca-Cola, Golden Eagle, New Age Distributing, Blue Bell Ice Cream, Highland Dairy and Centennial Bank.

Subway will donate sandwiches to all the kids on Monday. Papa John’s will donate 60 pizzas over four days in the next few weeks.

Dominoes will give free pizzas to the club on at least one day.

New Age Distributing will donate bottled water, and Highland Dairy will donate milk.

Boys and Girls Club director LaConda Watson, who is also a Jacksonville-North Pulaski School Board member, was happy to see the community rally to support her organization.

“I wish I could just hug everyone. It does help to see that kind of support. It’s truly a blessing,” Watson said.

When she heard Friday about Bonnie McDonald’s contribution, Watson said, “It’s so awesome. I’m in tears.”

Watson was grateful for Blevins’ quick response and success.

“Anybody could have made the calls, but it wouldn’t have been possible without what the Boys and Girls Cub has accomplished in all these years. For a lot of these kids, this is their second home. Anybody who has a heart or the ability would do something,” Blevins said.

“Laconda is amazing, but she can only knock on so many doors to ask for donations,” he said.

“It was a pleasure to be able to do this. I’ve done a lot of business with them over the last couple of years” he said.

He said the businesses were glad to help because of the Boys and Girls Club’s good reputation having served generations of Jacksonville youth.

The money will go a long way to help Jacksonville kids who show up to the club after school with empty stomachs, until the DHS food program returns, which could take as long as a month. Watson hopes DHS expedites the process to allow the Arkansas Food Bank, the club’s new food vendor, to begin delivering food in the next few weeks.

Boys and Girls Club members rely on its after-school meals, which are an important part of their daily nutrition. The meals typically include a portion of meat, a vegetable, a fresh fruit, milk and water.

Donations can be made online at the club’s website,

Chili’s in Jacksonville will donate 10 percent of every diner’s bill to the Boys and Girls Club from 5 till 9 p.m. Monday. They must bring flyers available on the club’s Facebook page.

The club will also hold a Tennis Shoes and Tutus family fundraiser Saturday, Sept. 9.