It started back in 1988 when a few folks saw the need to start a Boys and Girls Club on the Peninsula. The first club had 40 members, the second year membership grew to over 400 and today there are 6 clubs on Peninsula serving 4,500 kids from Homer to Seward and a Teen Center in Kenai providing a positive place for kids. Last week some of those kids, members of the Soldotna Torch Club made a trip to the Soldotna Animal Shelter to present Animal Control officer Mary Ann Clark with a check and special items they had purchased and collected for the orphaned pets. "The Torch Club is a leadership club for ten to twelve year olds. The kids elect their own officers and pick there own projects and raise funds for those projects which are usually centered on community service or projects for the club too," explained Soldotna Club House director Kim Lee.
According to Lee Torch Club members decided they wanted to benefit the Animal Shelter by purchasing items they were in need of so they held a two day bake sale where they raised $230 dollars, "Forty of that was a result of direct donations from people who didn't want to a cup cake but wanted to help the effort, so we kept those funds separate and presented a check to Mary Ann today along the boxes of items the kids bought for the animals here like toys and treats as well as items to use on them like towels and wash clothes and grooming utensils the shelter was in need of," said Lee. Kaitlin, one of the Torch Club members commented, "I feel the animals here will like the toys and be happy to know that people out there love them and want them to be happy too." Mary Ann Clark was happy to receive the fruits of the kid's efforts, "We do a lot of hard work here at the shelter and it's very much appreciated to know the community supports that work. What we are receiving here today from the Boys & Girls Club are items that we can't purchase here at the Animal Shelter because they are the extras, the toys, the treats that we can't purchase but through donations are greatly accepted and we really appreciate the efforts of these boys and girls," said Clark.
While the Torch Club members unloading their gifts, a young couple Garcia & Jenna Burch came in search of a pet, the kids helped them pick out a nice kitten then all agreed to have the animal control officer use the check they brought in to help pay the adoption fee for the kitty, "The couple and the kids were all thrilled what a great experience in leadership this turned out to be and here it is National Boys & Girls Club week," said Dent. During National Boys & Girls Club week there were activities at all six of the club houses according to executive director Natasha Ala, "Each of the club houses had special programming going on to celebrate the national event and the Kenai Club in cooperation with KPC for Earth Day built a composting project at the Food Bank. The idea is also to study how different materials decompose in different bins, and if you haven't been by the Kenai Teen Center recently you'll want to check it out because it looks very different due to the massive re-model. Friday we gave a way one hundred free memberships in honor on National Boys & Girls Club week," said Ala. Summer enrollment for outdoor soccer and other programs at the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Kenai Peninsula is now open through April 27th and you can learn more at www.positiveplaceforkids.org or stop by the Kenai headquarters on Frontage Rd. in Kenai.