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BBQ helps finance efforts to steer youth away from gang lifestyle

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BBQ helps finance efforts to steer youth away from gang lifestyle

Cook Nick McClain serves up grilled chicken for an order during the first of two BBQ fundraisers to help finance the Friday United Night. The next BBQ is Friday, May 29, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at t...

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin


POSTED May 20, 2009 2:39 a.m.

It is one of Manteca’s smallest congregations but it isn’t preventing Southside Christian Center from striving mightily to tackle one of Manteca’s biggest problems – the influence of gangs.

The congregation is once again staging Friday Unity Night in the Neighborhood taking place from 6 to 9 p.m. Fridays at the Southside Christian Church, 314 Locust Ave. for 6 to 17 year olds on Friday nights in June, July, and August.

Manteca Police Chief Dave Bricker has praised the congregation’s efforts noting in the long run the only way to effectively steer kids away from gangs is to make alternatives readily available.

The Rev. Quincy McClain pointed out last year that it was important that the church extend out into the community and not keep its distance by reaching out to people of all faiths. The gang issue was on the top of the list of outreach efforts for the community based on the continuous gang problem plaguing the Southside neighborhood.

While a major police crackdown three years ago helped reduce shootings, gang problems are still a major issue in the Southside neighborhood.

The effort is similar to what the Place of Refuge (formerly First Assembly of God) did with its once a month teen hangout dubbed “The Spot.” The FUN effort goes a step further by taking place weekly and bringing in speakers and experts on everything from health to education in a bid to give youth attending inspiration and assistance.

Other Manteca churches have had similar one-day outreaches in parks.

The initial year saw as many as 100 kids a week show up for free pizza as well as fruits and vegetables and to play basketball, volleyball, foosball, air hockey, ping pong, playing bounce houses and enjoy Disney music.

Last year, the congregation dug into their own pockets to cover the $3,000 bill plus had help with bottled water and other items from merchants.

The effort is being financed this year with two BBQ fundraisers planned on two different Fridays. One has already taken place and the other is May 29 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. The BBQ will offer ribs, chickens, and links as well as sides such as baked beans, and peach cobbler with prices ranging from $2 to $5.Dinner combos are also available for between $15 and $30.

For more information go to www.pacificalumni.org/funclub or call 275-2153.

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