Boys & Girls Club campaign a solid investment in kids

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Auburn has generously supported its Boys & Girls Club for the last 15 years, donating money and sweat equity for thousands of kids who might not have such a safe, positive place to go to after school. That support has been most evident in the past year, when years of capital campaign fundraising dollars were put down on the purchase of a new clubhouse and office complex on Lincoln Way. Now it’s time for the community to finish the job. This week, some 20,000 homes and businesses in the greater Auburn area received a letter from Randy Tooker, the club’s chief professional officer, seeking contributions to help pay off the remaining $375,000 on the building. Deemed the “Community Challenge Campaign,” the drive runs through October, although club officials readily admit it might take longer in the current economic climate. If you received the letter, the easy thing might be to toss it in with other donation requests or, worse, send it straight to the trash can. Don’t. Instead, give yourself a few minutes to think about what the club has done for your children, your grandchildren – or children you’ve never met. The Boys & Girls Club of Auburn is a community jewel, and the new clubhouse is a testament to faith, hard work and relentless attention to the needs of many of the community’s less affluent. Schedule a tour and see what all the excitement is about. At 15,000 square feet, the Lincoln Way complex is several times larger than the former clubhouse, the old firehouse at High and Lewis streets. Club buildings include a gym, technology center, performing arts center, meeting rooms, two kitchens and offices. A landscaped courtyard hosts outdoor activities and special events. And then there are the programs. From its after-school “power hour” of homework to the activities that make the club a safe haven from drugs, alcohol and other bad choices, the club delivers instruction with impact. But the club is really about people, and adults who care deeply about the welfare of our kids. The board of directors reads like a “who’s who” of Auburn, many of whom raised their children in the community and are now giving back – both financially and emotionally. Tooker is a skilled, genuine and likable leader. Bonnie McAdams, who led the club for years and has “retired” to raise the needed funds, is still quick to shed a tear over community support. “Growing up in today’s world isn’t easy for anyone, but for those who need us most, it’s tougher than you think,” Tooker writes in his community request. “Your gift of any size will help pay off the clubhouse and directly impact the future of our community.” If you’ve been an annual donor to the club, or loyally attended the annual fundraising breakfast, dig a little deeper for this campaign. If you’ve never made a gift to the club, seriously consider writing a check in whatever amount you can afford. This is a challenging time. Every person has to watch where every dollar goes, and treat each dollar spent as an investment. That’s what a gift to the Boys & Girls Club is. “By investing in today’s generation, you make Auburn a stronger, safer, more satisfying place for the next generation,” Tooker writes. That’s a pretty good return on investment.