MOULTRIE, Ga. — Like so many other groups, the Boys and Girls Club of Moultrie/Colquitt County had to make some special arrangements due to the coronavirus, but members’ enthusiasm for the annual Christmas at the Club was undiminished.
The club held the Christmas celebration Wednesday afternoon in a much-altered format. Instead of a crowd of children and parents inside the clubhouse on West Central Avenue, parents drove through the parking lot in back to receive gifts and meals for their children. The club’s chief executive, Joseph Matchett, said gifts were given both to members and as an outreach to children in the community.
He said the club gave away more than 500 gifts and about that same number of meals at the event. The sack lunches included either a hamburger, a chicken sandwich or chicken nuggets.
Among the gifts were 15 bicycles the club bought with $1,000 donated for the purpose by Lisa Asbell, a St. Petersburg, Fla., resident, Matchett said. The club and Walmart each pitched in an additional $200. Recipients were chosen after interviews with parents, Matchett said.
Other gifts were donated too. For instance, UnderArmor provided jerseys in multiple sizes.
“All their events were canceled (due to the coronavirus pandemic), so they donated a lot of stuff,” Matchett said.
Matchett said the club was currently serving about one-third as many students as normal because of coronavirus rules, even though it opened two new facilities this year. In addition to the main clubhouse on West Central and a facility focused on the Moultrie Housing Authority neighborhoods, it added a clubhouse in Berlin and a teen center in Northwest Moultrie. He said Wednesday’s gift recipients were split among all four of those locations.
The pandemic, which closed schools in March for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year, also pushed the Boys and Girls Club to serve more meals than normal. Matchett estimated it had served more than 500,000 meals, but after a discussion with a member of his staff, he revised that to more than 600,000.
Before Christmas at the Club ended, Matchett made sure parents and members knew the club would reopen Jan. 5 after the holiday break.