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Boys and Girls Clubs stepped up during pandemic; now seek financial support online - OCRegister

When the coronavirus pandemic led to closures of schools and child care facilities across Orange County, it was Boys Girls Clubs that opened their doors to provide a safe option for the children of first responders, health care employees and other essential workers.

The clubs transformed their traditional after-school snack programs into broader food distribution, getting groceries to families hurt by job loss and other economic hardships, in addition to providing daily lunches for children. They also geared up to assist families with remote learning, again providing an option with on-site instructional assistance and technology for children unable to get instruction at home.

In response, the community has expressed support for the organization. Last August, during the annual 24-hour online fundraising event known as “Greatness Amplified Giving Day,”  people gave about $309,000 to the county’s 14 Boys Girls Clubs — more than double the initial goal.

This year’s Greatness Amplified fundraiser begins Wednesday, Aug. 18, at midnight, with a goal of raising $200,000.This will be the fourth online Giving Day marathon for the clubs held under the auspices of Orange County Community Foundation.

“These are critical funds,” said Robert Santana, chief executive officer of the Boys Girls Clubs of Central Orange Coast, which serves Santa Ana, Costa Mesa, Irvine and Newport Beach.

The 14 Boys Girls Clubs in Orange County operate a total of 109 sites, including some based at school campuses. Prior to the pandemic, the clubs served about 90,000 children ages 5 to 18, mostly with after-school programs. Each club also sets its own fundraising goal and reaches out on social media for the Giving Day.

Because of the health risks posed by COVID-19, many of the clubs have been prevented from holding the kind of in-person fundraising events that sustain their operations. That makes the Giving Day donations — and the financial match opportunities that some clubs have secured from key supporters — even more vital, Santana said.

“Because of this pandemic, the philanthropic landscape has shifted.”

Santana describes the work the clubs are undertaking this year as the “recovery phase” of the pandemic, for both children and their parents.

“We’re helping kids with the social and emotional aftermath … We’re doing awareness campaigns to get more resources out to families so they know where to go if they need help.”

For more information on the Giving Day, go to greatness-amplified-giving-day.ocnonprofitcentral.org.