The Rome News-Tribune’s annual Make a Child Smile Ball Drive hopes to remedy that.
In its fifth year, the drive aims to provide a brand new sports ball for every child who visits the Boys & Girls Club of Northwest Georgia regularly.
This is done through donations and from schools, businesses and the public.
“These donations make a big difference to the kids,” said Jesse Demonbreun, the club’s South Rome Unit Director. “A long time ago, this organization was able to provide small gifts for the kids but the numbers have outgrown our ability to do that. It’s likely that many of them won’t be getting a lot this Christmas. So through this ball drive, not only can we give them something but it’s something that will encourage them to be active.”
The Boys & Girls Club of Northwest Georgia provides a safe place for children throughout the community to learn and grow after school. Their experience there includes a healthy snack and the opportunity to do homework under the guidance of adult counselors. The children also are able to participate in art and fitness classes as well as character development and community service programs.
“We have a staff and we also have volunteers that come pretty routinely,” Demonbreun said. “The kids can participate in different activities, play in the game room and the gym and we also run some educational programs of our own — for example, dealing with peer pressure, bullying and nutrition.”
Demonbreun said the South Rome Boys and Girls club is visited by about 165 kids each day while the West Rome club averages around 140 each day. There is also a club in Cedartown which averages around 50 kids each day.
The goal of this year’s drive is 400 balls. The Rome News-Tribune is also asking community members to donate unwrapped basketballs, soccer balls, tennis balls, rubber balls, footballs and volleyballs.
There are drop-off locations at the West Rome IGA, Owens Hardware, Citizens First Bank and the Rome News-Tribune. Organizers hope individuals and businesses will help ensure that all the kids who visit the Boys and Girls Club will have a ball this Christmas.
“A lot of these kids don’t typically own any of their own sports equipment,” Demonbreun said. “To be able to give them something of their own that they can claim ownership of is a great thing.”
He added that in the past, the community’s generosity has allowed for a surplus of balls which are distributed to the clubs themselves for use on a daily basis.
The deadline for dropping off donations is Dec. 14. For additional information about the ball drive or to arrange for pickup or large donations, email Cecilia Crow at email@example.com or call 706-290-2296.
“I don’t think people realize what a basketball or a football or a soccer ball means to some of our kids,” Demonbreun said. “Every year we’ve been the recipient of this you can tell those kids who are blown away by it. They say ‘I get to keep this?’ You can tell it makes a difference to them that somebody is thinking about them.”
Rome News Tribune, 305 E. Sixth Ave.
Owens Hardware, 116 E. Second Ave.
West Rome IGA, 610 Shorter Ave.
Citizens First Bank, 701 Broad St.