In a pre-COVID-19 world, this time of year, young students would be attending their regularly scheduled classes at school for the majority of the day while their parents are out working. However, as schools began to close and work remains a priority for adults, many families are struggling to find a place for their children to reside while attending virtual class.
To help combat this issue, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Mercer County are assisting students attending online school by giving them a place to go as they learn.
“We have kids starting the program at 7:30 a.m. every morning,” said Sarah Julian, Director of Events and Corporate Engagement for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Mercer County. “Traditionally in September, (the students) wouldn’t be here until 3:30 p.m. or 4:00 p.m..”
As of September 23, 2020, there are over 80 children attending the Boys & Girls Clubs 212 Centre Street, Trenton location throughout the day. During the time period, each child is offered help with their schooling while surrounded by other students working through similar homework. “It’s a safe place for parents to send their kids where they can get help with their digital schooling and when parents aren’t able to help, which I know is a very serious issue right now,” said Julian.
Another serious issue families are running into right now are finances. As digital working and schooling increases, some families are finding it difficult to keep up. However, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Mercer County are also working with the community to help support the students attending their programs.
Julian said, “Over 90% of the kids that attend our programs are on some sort of financial aid. We hand out financial aid basically based upon who qualifies for free or reduced lunch.”
In order to provide significant amounts of financial aid to attending students, the Boys & Girls Club of Mercer County engages in a variety of fundraising opportunities, including the annual Run for Club Kids fundraiser. Although virtual this year, the clubs have already raised $55,000 before the runs have begun.
While schools of Trenton are not expected to open any time soon, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Mercer County are preparing to have students throughout the days until at least November 1, 2020. Julian said, “I think it’s important to emphasize that we are open.”