Staff Writer

Guests at the Boys and Girls Club of Charlotte County knew they were attending a ribbon cutting Wednesday evening to celebrate upgrades to the club.

What they didn’t know, however, was why they were standing under an overhang to protect themselves from the rain just before 6 p.m.

There were whispers, but no one knew for sure, until Executive Director Lynn Dorler explained the club had been awarded a $41,000 grant through the Boys and Girls Club of America, which allowed them to get a 2019 Sienna Van from Bridgestone and Tires Plus. The van, which pulled up as the guests waited out the storm, was wrapped with ‘Boys and Girls Club of Charlotte County’ on the side. With the van, the club can transport up to eight kids at a time.

“It will allow us to take kids on more opportunities,” said Danielle Meeker, 17, staff member and former Boys and Girls Club attendee. “We can take them to job fairs, college visits, get them more active in the community.”

Dorler added with the van, the club can take kids to special events held by sponsors in the community, such as Tampa Bay Rays’ games in nearby St. Petersburg.

The club also had a ribbon cutting with the Punta Gorda Chamber of Commerce to celebrate upgrades to the location.

Dorler announced the club received $40,000 in funds from community sponsors to establish a dinner program, which will kick off in September. The program will ensure that every kid who comes to the club has a healthy dinner before they go home.

Dorler said this should ease the financial and time burden on parents. They estimate the program will serve 200 kids a day at both the Port Charlotte and Englewood (Gulf Cove) locations.

Currently the Port Charlotte location servesMeadow Park, Liberty, Neil Armstrong, Kingsway, Deep Creek, and Peace River Elementary Schools, and Murdock Middle. Kids are picked up by a Boys and Girls Club bus and transported to the club, where their parents pick them up later.

At the club they can play games, get help with their homework, and have snacks.

Parents interested in registering their children can do so in person at the club located at 21450 Gibralter Drive in Port Charlotte. The after-school program is $25 per week per child, and includes pick-up, tutors, snacks at the club, and now dinner, too.

Scholarships are available based on financial need. For more information, email or call 941-235-0668.



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