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Community youth need you! Go to Expo next weekend

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For as long as I can remember, the Ogdensburg Boys and Girls Club Expo has been a major highlight of the city’s March calendar.

It’s the event that heralds the arrival of spring in the city. And it’s for a good cause: the thousand or so kids the club helps every year through after-school and sports activities.

The club hasn’t been immune to the financial challenges confronting most organizations and businesses since our already poor economy headed south a few years ago. Like most organizations that rely on donations to keep going, it has had less money to do the same job it always has: providing positive activities for kids.

Also for as long as I can remember, I have heard the same gripe about shiftless kids in the community with nothing better to do than cause trouble. There’s not enough for these kids to do to keep them off the streets. Maybe in some ways they are right. But at least one organization is doing something to fix that. The Boys and Girls Club works really hard to keep as many of those kids as possible off the streets, out of trouble, and engaged in healthy, positive activities.

In an age when so many kids come from households where both parents have to work to make ends meet, the Boys and Girls Club is a tremendous community asset we can’t afford to lose. The club gives kids a place to go when their only other option might be to go home to an empty house until Mom and Dad get home in the evening. As I was told many times as a child, idle hands are the devil’s workshop. A child with nothing to do and no supervision will eventually find his or her way to trouble.

The club also offers children help with homework, exposure to community service projects, and sports activities that teach them about good sportsmanship and teamwork. It helps them build good social skills that will help turn them into well-adjusted adults. Going to Expo helps the club keep doing all the wonderful things it does for our kids.

I know what you’re going to say. Expo is the same every year. You’re wrong. If it’s been a couple of years since you went to Expo, go check it out. Sure, every year there are familiar faces among the booths and displays, but there are also a lot of new ones. I went last year after I hadn’t been in a couple of years and was pleasantly surprised at how many new vendors were there. I even bought some stuff.

Even if the promise of fresh vendors isn’t enough to get you through the doors of the Edgar A. Newell II Golden Dome March 22 through 24, the lure of cold, hard cash should help motivate you. Expo’s top prize this year is $5,000 cash. There are lots of other great prizes up for grabs, too.

Ticket holders might even have the luck of the Irish on their side today. An early-bird drawing for $1,000 will be held this evening at Hosmer’s Marina. So stop down to Hosmer’s, say hello to their celebrity bar tenders, and buy a ticket or two.

After Sunday, tickets are available at the club, through club board members, and through volunteers selling them at Wal-Mart, the St. Lawrence Federal Credit Union and Price Chopper. A ticket gets you a chacne to win some cash or some cool stuff and lets you help the club keep offering a place for kids to go where they can do some positive things. Sounds like a good deal to me.

The Boys and Girls Club has done a lot over the years to help the youth of Ogdensburg and the surrounding communities. The price of admission to Expo and $10 for a prize giveaway ticket are really small things to give back to an organization that has given so much to us.

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