Former NFL player Russell Maryland is a staunch believer in the value of the Boys & Girls Clubs youth programs. The former Dallas Cowboy credits the organization for keeping him on a good path as he was growing up. That’s why he has enthusiastically agreed to be the honorary chairman of the annual campaign the nonprofit is launching on Thursday.Everyone in the community is invited to drop by to meet Maryland and hear him speak at the Campaign Kickoff Celebration at 6 p.m. at the South Street Patio, 400 E. South St. Guests will enjoy hearing about Maryland’s 10-year pro career, which included three Super Bowl victories. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2011 and the University of Miami Hall of Fame in 2001. Chairing the annual campaign are residents Don and Andrea Proctor. “Don and I are honored to be part of a wonderful organization, and we look forward to helping build a stronger Arlington by investing in the youth of our community,” said Andrea Proctor. “Please join us as we kick off the Boys & Girls Clubs annual campaign.”Proctor said the campaign theme — “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow” — is reflective of numerous board members who were “Club Kids” during their youth. Besides Maryland, board Chairman Mark Caffey and board members Gerald Alley, Ian Lee and Don Proctor are former participants who are now successful businessmen paying it forward so that other kids can enjoy the same benefits they experienced.Other fun activities are planned for the kickoff party, so make it one of your special summer events. Direct inquiries to Emma Bush at 817-275-6551. A busy YMCA means meals, backpacks and carnival for kidsEach day in June and July nearly 800 children received meals and snacks at the YMCA of Arlington through the free food program that is in full swing at all the family centers operated by the Y. The program, now in its second year and funded through a Wal-Mart Foundation grant, provides nutritious meals and snacks and activities to help keep kids healthy, active and well-nourished during the summer months. It’s open to all children and teens under 18 until Aug. 22.“At the Y, we are focused on working to keep kids mentally and physically active while ensuring they have access to healthy food so they’re well-nourished,” says Irene Johnson, director of program development and quality assurance at the Y. “The YMCA’s summer food program will help kids stay healthy, active and energized all summer long, ensuring they start the school year ready to achieve.”According to YMCA research, many of the children who receive free or reduced-cost meals during the school year have no access to free meals when school is out.“To help fill the summertime gap and ensure fewer children go hungry, the YMCA of Arlington is serving breakfast and lunch at each family center, as well as the summer day camp sites, Sherrod and Miller elementary schools,” said YMCA spokeswoman Pamela Webb. Once school resumes in late August, children will continue to get nutritional help in YMCA after-school programs where a healthy snack will be served each day. In other YMCA news, the successful backpack program from last year is back again — only bigger this time because it has expanded to serve not only Arlington students but Mansfield students, too.The summer promotion is designed to provide backpacks through new memberships at the Y. Here’s how it works: Anyone can stop by one of the YMCA locations and purchase a backpack for $20 that will be donated to Arlington and Mansfield schools for distribution to kids in need. In exchange for the $20 purchase, the Y is waiving the $75 joining fee. This is a $55 savings for the new member and a new backpack for a student in need.School supplies are also a welcome donation, and anyone in the community that wants to donate can drop off the supplies at the designated container set up at each facility.“We are looking forward to our second annual August backpack campaign and are excited about this opportunity to assist children in need,” says Roberto Aguirre, YMCA president and CEO. “Last year we were able to donate a mountain of backpacks — 508 — to the AISD. This year our goal is 720. This is a way that the Y can offer our members the opportunity to help a needy child and make a difference while doing something their family.”Again this summer, the Y is hosting the Father/Child Carnival and Back to School Bash from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 23 at the family center at 2200 S. Davis Drive. Everyone is invited to come by and enjoy complimentary food and participate in rock climbing, bounce houses, rope bridges, carnival games and swimming in the outdoor pool.To inquire about these programs, contact Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 817-299-9629, ext. 1600, or Webb at 817-299-9629, ext. 1300.
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