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Each day after school, anywhere from 10-20 students at Owens Valley School walk straight from their classrooms over to the Kids Club, which may be forced to shut down next week.
At the Kids Club, which is operated by the nonprofit Healthy Communities of Southern Inyo, students sign in, do their homework, and then spend the rest of the time playing until it is time to go home or Mom and Dad picks them up when they get off work.
For many parents, âitâs a comfort to know where their children are and that they are under the supervision and the watchful eye of an adult they can trust,â Healthy Communities Director Charles James said.
As with many programs that meet a need in the community, the Kids Clubâs funding is in jeopardy as a result of the funding cuts that are affecting schools and other local programs.
Funding provided from the Owens Valley Unified School District Board of Trustees has been cut, placing the program on life-support that depends on whether parents and community supporters of local youth can raise sufficient funding to keep the doors open.
The OVUSD board did provide $4,500 towards supporting a parentsâ group formed to fundraise on behalf of the Kids Club, which kept the doors open temporarily.
Now it is crunch time, according to James, and unless funding can be raised, the Kids Club may be forced to close as early as the end of next week until sufficient funding can be found to keep it open.
According to Healthy Communities Board President Jaque Hickman, âWe cannot continue to offer programs that are not paying their way no matter how important and vital it is to the community without the support of the community itself. We are a small community non-profit with very limited resources.â
A local group of parents and supporters met over the past two months to put together a gun raffle to support the Kids Club in hopes of keeping it open. Many have children that attend the Kids Club, while others are simply supporters of local youth and the school.
âWhile efforts have started, time is running out and funding hoped to be found through the gun raffle may come too late âŠ or at least too late to not have to close the club temporarily until enough funds are collected to keep it open,â James said.
Two local businesses in Lone Pine and Bishop, along with a rifle manufacturer, are providing the guns for the raffle at cost to help with the fundraising effort.
Leeâs Frontier in Lone Pine is providing the .12 Gauge Remington 870 Express Super-Mag shotgun; Macâs Sporting Goods the Beretta Tikka .270 Bolt Action Hunting Rifle and the Henry Repeating Arms Company, the Henry Lever Action Octagon .22 Rifle.
A local Gun Safety Class instructor has offered to provide the class free to anyone who wins the three main prizes and other prizes include gift certificates to local restaurants, businesses and services.
Raffle tickets are $5 each or five tickets for $20 and the drawing will be held at the Owens Valley School Multipurpose Room at 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 18, during the Community of Independence Thanksgiving Dinner.
For more information on the raffle and where and how to purchase tickets to support the effort to keep the Independence Kids Club open, call (760) 878-8222 or send a check or money order to Healthy Communities at P.O. Box 627, Lone Pine, CA 93545.