The Boys & Girls Club of Dane County raised more than $100,000 in less than 10 hours Friday through an online donation drive for those affected by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
“We wanted to respond quickly to make sure that children, families and individuals who are in need get the support that they deserve,” Michael Johnson, Boys & Girls Club president and CEO, said Saturday.
The Boys & Girls Club partnered with the United Way and community leaders to launch the donation drive and plans to coordinate with the city, county and other leaders to distribute the funds. Donations will go toward providing medical supplies for those directly affected by the COVID-19 coronavirus and meals for children who won’t have access to food due to school closures, as well as helping local shelters to support families and individuals in need, college students in need of temporary housing and meals, and senior citizens who may need meals, transportation and medical assistance, Johnson said.
The club hopes to raise $250,000 by Friday and distribute funds to those in need as soon as possible, Johnson said.
Henry Sanders Jr., CEO and publisher of Madison 365, brainstormed the idea to start the fund with Johnson. Sanders said he was motivated by single parents who need to care for their children who are home from school, but must work outside the home, as well as families who are living in shelters during the pandemic.
“We also wanted to show, during a time of so much division in our country, how we can bring people together,” he said.
The Boys & Girls Club will provide information on their plan to distribute the funds during a news conference with United Way next week, said Leslie Petty, chair of the Boys & Girls Club board of directors.
“This is exactly what hope looks like,” Petty said. “It is us, pulling together in this community to make this happen.”
In an effort to ensure funds are distributed equally to those in need, Johnson has reached out to Centro Hispano of Dane County and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Dane County.
More than $103,000 has been contributed from UW Health, UnityPoint Health-Meriter, The Meicher Family Foundation, United Way and individual donors.
The Boys & Girls Club plans to put together a report on how donations will be used, Johnson said.
The club planned to stay open with normal hours on Monday and Tuesday. Beginning Wednesday through April 6, the club will offer programming for preschool-age students from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., and the after-school program for grades K-12 will meet from 1 to 6 p.m. daily. Transportation will be suspended beginning Wednesday. The organization will be serving one snack and one meal daily to members. If a member of the club’s staff or students test positive for COVID-19, all operations will be shut down.
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