Y, Community Action and Boys & Girls Club pack up activity bags

Hillary Gavan/Beloit Daily News | Mar 31, 2020

BELOIT—Children at Hackett and Merrill elementary schools will be getting activity bags stuffed with snacks, juice, books and fun thanks to some quick work by the Stateline Family YMCA, Stateline Boys & Girls Club, Community Action and the School District of Beloit.

Volunteers from the agencies lined up books donated by the Beloit Literacy for Life Initiative, Gatorade, chips and cookies from Frito-Lay and coupons from Culver’s before stuffing the bags on Monday at Community Action’s training center.

The Stateline Family YMCA, Stateline Boys & Girls Club, Community Action had purchased puzzles, word searches and other games for inclusion in the packs in addition to the ample snacks.

“We want to say hello, boost morale and let kids and families know we’re here for them,” Interim Deputy Director for Community Action Inc. Marc Perry said.

“A little treat here and there helps break up some of what they’re facing,” President and CEO of Stateline Family YMCA Ann Hankins said. “It allows us to create a bit of a bright light for kids at home who are facing some of the same anxieties as adults.”

The 200 activity bags will be distributed along with the school district’s lunches at the school sites. The bags will be handed out at Hackett next week and at Merrill the week of April 13.

During the flurry of packing on Monday, Perry commended Hankins and Stateline Boys and Girls Club Chief Executive Officer Mark Rand for diving in to make the project happen.

“Mark and Ann were awesome to work with,” he said.

Perry explained that Rand called him with the idea a week ago, and everyone was able to quickly secure donations and make the project a reality.

“We are doing what we can to serve the kids we serve and trying to keep them as engaged as possible while they are home from school and the club,” Rand said.

Rand said Boys and Girls Clubs around the country are doing similar activities. He added the Stateline Boys and Girls Club is offering virtual programming, online activities available on the club’s website and Facebook page for their approximately 1,900 youth members during the COVID-19 quarantine. He also hopes to offer curbside dinner pickup for families in April.

During the event packers were proudly donning “We are all in this together” T-shirts made by Walnut Creek Awards and Promotions, 406 E Grand Ave., to show support for local businesses.

“We are wearing the shirts, and we will give them a shout out as they are a supporter of our organizations,” Rand said.

Hankins says she is thankful for the YMCA members who have kept their memberships during the quarantine.

That has helped allow the YMCA to offer emergency child care for children of health care workers and other essential employees. Community Action is offering a similar service at its center in Janesville.