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Making a difference for kids
Club seeks help with telethon Nov. 23-24
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• WHAT:  Boys & Girls Club Telethon
• WHEN: Monday, Nov, 23, from 5 to 8 p.m., and Tuesday, Nov. 24, from 4:30 to 11 p.m.
• WHERE: Clubhouse at 545 W. Alameda carried live on Comcast Channel 97
• TO HELP: E-mail or call the club at 239-KIDS
Charlie Halford can tell you stories that can bring tears to your eyes.

There’s the young girl who was surrounded by gang influences at home who used the Boys & Girls Club as a safe haven after school.

Another revolves around a young teen that used the club’s influences to stay on the straight and narrow while parents were arrested repeatedly for criminal acts.

Yet another is about a teen – thrown out of her home at 16 – who counted on the club to provide an anchor as she found friends’ families willing to let her crash on their couch while she finished and who is today a successful student at San Jose State University.

It’s stories about the impact the club has on the lives of Manteca’s youth that not only prompted Charlie Halford to step in as Boys & Girls Club executive director after his retirement as police chief but also led to his decision to forgo half of his salary to make sure the maximum amount of services were available to the club’s 1,500 members during tough economic times.

Halford and other Boys & Girls Club boosters are calling on the community – individuals and groups – to help if they can during the 30th annual Boys & Girls Club Telethon taking place Monday, Nov. 23, and Tuesday, Nov. 24, on Comcast Channel 97.

The goal is to raise $120,000 to help finance supervision and programs for club members.

The non-profit counts on the telethon each year to provide roughly 25 percent of the funds they need to run a site in Manteca and Lathrop. The Manteca site is open school days from 3 to 8 p.m. at the main site at 545 W. Alameda Street and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on school holidays.

The rough economy has generated an ever bigger attendance as parents struggling to make ends meet with reduced pay and shorter hours are dropping babysitting and child care that they can no longer afford and are using the club as a safe haven for their kids while they are away from home working.

Individuals who would like to assist with pledge phones are asked to call the club at 239-KIDS.
Halford noted that these are challenging times for everyone given the economy. Even so, he is hoping people will step up.
The strategy this year is to see if people can spare at least $10 given the economy has hit those who have traditionally been major donors hard including new home construction, dairy farming, and auto sales.

The club just doubled their membership fee to $24 – the first jump in more than 14 years.

The Boys & Girls Club offers a year’s worth of karate lessons, play in flag football and basketball leagues, have a safe place to hang out after school until as late as 8 p.m. with friends, play and do their homework for one monthly fee that is kept a slow as possible to make sure the kids who need a safe haven can afford it.

The $24 fee also includes Boys & Girls Club T-shirt. There is a break for families that have more than two children that would cost $48. After that, each additional child is $12 a year.

The club offers homework assistance, computers for doing school work, and various character building programs. It also offers a variety of recreation games, sports leagues, arts classes, or simply a safe place to spend time with friends.

For more information, call the club at 239-KIDS.