Last Friday, the Boys and Girls Club of Manhattan asked the community to bet not on themselves, but rather on the bright futures of kids within the Manhattan area. It was the club’s 16th Annual Casino Night and Auction, and guests paid $75 to enjoy heavy appetizers, “play-for-fun” casino games and auctions.
With over 150 donated items, ranging from trips to Mexico to signed pieces of K-State memorabilia, there was something for everyone. Administrators of the Boys and Girls Club of Manhattan said they hoped to reach their fundraising goal of $130,000.
Development Coordinator Leah Braet spoke about the first live-auction item, the “Be Great Item.” Used as a way to support club families in the community, the money went to a scholarship fund for those who may not be able to cover the club’s membership fees.
With nine on and off-campus sites, the Boys and Girls Club services over 2,500 children a year. The Casino Night and Auction helps pay for club costs that are not covered by federal grants. Acting as undesignated funding, the money from the event goes towards things like handicap-accessible busses, overhead costs and additional club costs.
Boys and Girls Club of Manhattan sees over 450 volunteers from the community who work with children in three main areas: healthy lifestyles, academic success and good character.
Braet said that, “When school is out, clubs are in,” referring to Boys and Girls Clubs of America’s national campaign that highlights the organization’s year-round extended learning services.
The Casino Night and Auction additionally acts as a chance to interact with the community, and shows that Boys and Girls Club focuses on offering affordable, but quality programs. Executive Director Junnae Campbell has worked with the club for nine years.
“It’s hard not to enjoy what we do,” Campbell said.
The enthusiasm for the success of children was exemplified throughout the entire event. Boys and Girls Club of Manhattan parents and staff worked to acquire and set up all the donated items, as well as run the casino games. Club parent Diane Born discussed how her 10-year-old daughter has been part of Boys and Girls Club since kindergarten.
“Boys and Girls Club allows me to be the professional that I am,” Born said.
The Boys and Girls Club of Manhattan plays a crucial role in the development of many children in the Manhattan community; however, running such a large after-school program can be costly. The Casino Night and Auction can only provide a fraction of the funds necessary to keep nine locations running, but donations to the club can be made year-round at Boys and Girls Club of Manhattan’s website.