Meridian, Miss. When it comes to serving the children in Lauderdale County, Boys and Girls Club of East Mississippi Executive Director, Ricky Hood, says his organization is barely able 'to scratch the surface.'
"This summer we will register about 1,000 kids. On a day-to-day basis we'll see about 600 to 700 kids in 3 locations. Well, there are 13,000 school age kids in Meridian and Lauderdale County. So, where are the rest of the kids going for the summer?"
For the summer the Boys and Girls Club of East Mississippi is filled to capacity at all three of its sites. Because there is no more room, officials are encouraging local churches and civic groups to open the doors to their family life centers and such to help serve the children who the Boys and Girls Club cannot.
"There's so much room for other people to get involved," says Hood. "I wish our churches would open up just a few hours a day in the afternoon, or whatever is possible for children because the buildings are sitting idle and the kids are sitting idle."
Given concerns in recent months about youth committing crimes, Hood stresses that it's important for parents to get their children involved in something positive for the summer.
"Being a part of something because if they don't be a part of a positive experience then they're going to find some negative things and gone are the days when we can leave them at home and say, 'they can watch themselves.' You can't do that because they have computers and if they have I-phones they have access to a lot of negative things over the internet. So, put them in a supervised in environment."