The first Boys and Girls Club of Durant was officially chartered and welcomed into Durant Thursday morning.
The club has been open to Durant children since Dec. 19 and has already grown to 180 children in that time. An average of 85 children are at the center each day.
The highest number of children that have been at the Boys and Girls Club at once stands at 108. The club serves approximately 80 single-parent families.
The Boys and Girls Club provides a safe place for children to go after school lets out every day. Seven-year-old Rylee Claxton said she used to get bored after school before she could come to the Boys and Girls Club.
“I just hang out with my friends here,” she said. Claxton said that the club helps with homework as well.
Claxton was the first official member of the Durant Boys and Girls Club and has earned youth of the month award.
Boys and Girls Club worker Lacresha Ramos explained the daily routine at the club. She said children arrive at about 3 p.m. They do homework and have a snack and social time.
At approximately 3:45, announcements are made followed by physical recreation, reading and arts and crafts then game time.
From 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. is dinner and clean up. Ramos said the children often volunteer to help clean.
A big thank you was given to Durant schools for providing the facility and allowing the use of several Durant Intermediate School facilities for club activities.
The Durant school system also provides bus routes to the club so children from all Durant schools can easily attend.
“I want to thank everybody for coming together,” said Kari Walker who began the project to bring a Boys and Girls Club of America to Durant.
Walker said she began trying to get a Boys and Girls Club of America in Durant about three years ago because she saw a need in the community.
“I had a young child and I knew there were no activities,” said Walker. After Regional Vice President Teresa Walch had a discussion with a local police officer, she was given Walker’s contact information and the journey began.
“It’s pretty obvious it’s all about the kids,” said Mayor Jerry Tomlinson. He said that the Boys and Girls Club provides a structured place for children to go.
Mayor Tomlinson said, “I applaud all of you,” addressing not only workers and leaders of the Boys and Girls Club but also the sponsors for all the work that was put into bringing a Boys and Girls Club into the area.
Tomlinson said organizations such as this help the future of the city, state and country. Interim Director of the Boys and Girls Club of Durant Mike Coffman said, “you can’t make a better investment than the children.”
He said the club’s goals are to teach the children to be engaged in the community they live in and to be healthy active people. He said the goal is to help the children become successful adults.
Coffman said he hopes to recruit children from all over Bryan County, not just in Durant.
“This belongs to the community of Bryan County. This is your Boys and Girls Club,” said Coffman.
The club is located at 1303 Waco St. next to the Durant Intermediate School. For more information, call the Boys and Girls Club at (580) 579-2423.
A fundraiser will is going to be held Feb. 14 at Whataburger for the Boys and Girls Club of Durant. Between 6 p.m. and 9p.m. on Valentines Day, 20 percent of Whataburger’s total sales will be donated to the Club.