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Taking on gangs, drugs & crime can be real FUN
Volunteer John Mack teamed up with Adrian Morris during a Friday Unity Night in the Neighborhood gathering last year at Southside Christian Church. Volunteers are needed for the project. Two BBQ fundraisers are planned for May 15 and 29 to help cover program costs. - photo by Bulletin file photo
The Rev. Quincy McClain and her flock take their charge to do the Lord’s work seriously.

That is why they are once again reaching out to help change the lives of hundreds of youth who live in what is one of Manteca’s most notorious at-risk neighborhoods for gang influences – Southside. They also want to steer them away from drugs as well as help them do better in school with the goal of being able to improve their lives.

They are doing it one kid at a time through the 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.

McClain and her congregation started the program last year as a community-based effort to reduce the influence of gangs over the lives of young people who often have no other alternatives in order to survive in their own neighborhoods.

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. The city allows the paved alley behind the church to be barricaded to accommodate the larger crowds of youth.

In addition, each week is designed to have a different program aimed at arming kids with the knowledge and resources they need to get good health care and to do well in school plus make smart choices.

The efforts is being  financed this year with two BBQ fundraisers planned on two different Fridays – May 15 and May 29 – from 6 to 9 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.

The first 45-minutes of each Friday are dedicated to one of three themes:

•June: You are what you eat and drink.

•July: Say no to gangs, drugs, crime, alcohol, and tobacco.

•August: Be cool and stay in school.

The program is also in need of volunteers.