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Summer Activity Programs Get Off to a Hot Start

TIMES STAFF WRITER

This summer the pool sharks at the West Valley Boys & Girls Club Columbus Unit will have six more cue sticks to sink shots with, thanks to some fellow billiard lovers.

“We had someone drive the whole way from North Hollywood [to Canoga Park] to give us a three-piece pool cue after our story ran,” said Bob Gross, the center’s executive director.

The club was among 20 programs that provide supervised summer activities for children featured in The Times’ Valley Edition’s Summer for Kids series, which ran May 3 to May 22.

The series profiled the programs and provided readers with itemized wish lists, ranging from books to basketballs, that could help the groups.

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By Wednesday, the San Fernando Valley Charitable Foundation, which processed the donations, had received 131 checks amounting to $8,739, said Nancy Schmidt, foundation president.

“It’s been very steady. Each article generated five or so checks coming through,” ranging from $4 to $1,500, she said.

Some donors specified what their money be used for, others asked that the receiving organization decide and still others asked that the foundation designate a recipient. The funds will be distributed at the end of the month, Schmidt said.

And, like the Columbus Unit of the West Valley Boys & Girls Club, which also received office supplies from a woman closing her business and cash donations of $300 and $100, other summer programs have received donations directly.

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The Boys & Girls Club of Burbank received a big-screen television, three file cabinets, arts and craft supplies and about $1,500, said executive director Alex Fey.

“The first day [the story] ran, we had five phone calls. Two were for donations, one being a check for $400,” Fey said. The other calls sought more information on summer programs.

Some donors gave gift certificates in lieu of a check. Terry Cortez, executive associate at the Boys & Girls Club of San Fernando Valley, said one donor sent a gift certificate to buy video games after reading the club’s profile and wish list. The club also has received a year’s worth of Internet access, which was on the wish list.

Some centers received items not on their wish lists but related to their activities. The Devonshire Police Activity League Supporters Youth Center got two computers, which will be used for research projects and other activities, said Officer Sara Faden, who runs the program.

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Although not every program received direct donations, many reported increased inquiries about their activities.

“Needless to say, your efforts have helped us inform families of all of the activities we can offer children this summer, and we are most appreciative of your support,” wrote Barbara Linski, executive director of the Mid Valley Family YMCA, to The Times.

Kelsy Maruyama, director of the West Valley Boys & Girls Club Calvert Unit, said she received a call from someone donating children’s videos, and a plethora of inquiries.

“Most of the calls are regarding summer camp and getting their kids into it,” she said.

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Maruyama said interest in the summer camp has been high, but the pace of enrollment has been slow. Still, she said, with the high level of interest this year, she expects an increase in attendance.

Gloria Gold, administrative director for the Halcyon Center for Child Studies in Van Nuys, said increased interest resulted in higher enrollment.

“We have full attendance in all our classes,” Gold said. “Hopefully, that will carry over to next year.”


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