WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. - Leaders in West Memphis hope kids in the city have hit the jackpot thanks to a big donation.
West Memphis got a check recently for nearly $115,000 thousand from Southland Casino Racing.
Most of the money is going to the Boys and Girls Clubs.
This extra money means Boys and Girls Clubs, like the one on Missouri Street in West Memphis, will be able to keep the lights on. The money is also going to introduce kids to STEM fields.
After West Memphis High School basketball Star Taylon Vail was gunned down while playing video games this year, his friends told the mayor they wanted extracurricular activities in their community to feel safe.
“When they get home in the afternoon, it’s nothing to do,” said Berlernia Prackett who’s an educator.
Educators like Prackett understands the need for the Boys and Girls Club where keeping the lights on hasn’t been easy.
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The executive director of the Boys and Girls Club of Crittenden County said he can think of several times when they almost had to close the doors because they struggled to pay the bills.
“Just paying our salaries, paying our insurance, paying our utilities, the things that you have to do to keep the doors open without that Southland money there’s no way we’d be able to do it,” said Darin McCollum; executive director of The Boys and Girls Club of Crittenden County.
Much of the more than $100,000 donation going to four Boys and Girls Clubs in West Memphis also means organizations can expand their programs by introducing kids to careers in the science, technology, engineering, and math fields.
“Because anyone can see that’s the future in jobs and success for youth, the downfall of that is STEM programs and technology are fairly expensive programs,” said McCullom.
The lack of exposure to STEM is a big hurdle for young girls, but educators say the funding from Southland is a step in the right direction.
“A lot of them want to be this big NFL player, they want to be an NBA player, not knowledgeable there’s other opportunities like Engineering, the science field,” Prackett said.
Each Boys and Girls Club will get about $20,000 dollars each.
Most of the extra money left over from Southland is also going toward the city’s disaster relief fund.
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