By Morgan Bryce
The Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Lee County will hold its annual “Champions for Kids Luncheon” Jan. 31 in the Southern Room on Opelika’s Southern Union State Community College campus, beginning at 11:30 a.m.
Republican Secretary of State John Merrill will serve as the luncheon’s keynote speaker, addressing the importance of clubs like the one here in Lee County.
“He is a friend and an advocate for children across the state of Alabama for a really long time. In Tuscaloosa, he served on their local boys and girls club and he is a champion for our education system, so he realizes the importance of clubs like ours,” said BGCGLC Resource Director Betty Burns.
Other activities during the event will include displays of the club’s art program from youth, ranging from poetry reading to singing. There will also be a presentation of the Youth of the Year and Jane Walker Community Champion awards, given to individuals who demonstrate a “commitment to the well-being, growth and development of Lee County’s children and youth in their volunteer and professional work.”
“Mrs. Jane (Walker) was one of the founding members of our Boys and Girls Club and really initiated them coming to our area. We honor her contribution by honoring certain people or members of the community by presenting them with this prestigious award,” Burns said.
According to research conducted by the Institute for Social Research and the School of Public Health at the University of Michigan, “every dollar invested in Boys & Girls Clubs returns $9.60 in current and future earnings, as well as cost-savings, to American communities. The biggest benefits are from Club members’ improved grades and reduced alcohol use and their parents’ earnings.”
Statistics on the BGCGLC website indicate that their annual $550,000 in operating costs can lead to more than $5.2 million “in lifetime benefits to youth, families and society.”
This year’s event sponsors are McDonald’s, Outback Steakhouse and Southern Union. Food will be provided by Outback.
Ticket sales are open now on the organization’s website, www.bgcleeco.org, costing $35 for individuals and $300 for tables of eight people.
For more information, call 334-502-1311.