>Solid start to drive for The Kids Club

   A $15,000 matching grant from Bright Wood has gotten the first major fundraising effort for the new Kids Club of Jefferson County off to a rousing start.
   The Drive for the Club -- an effort seeking contributions from the county's business community -- begins this month and lasts through March.
   The club -- which officially replaced the Central Oregon Boys and Girls Club Madras Branch in January -- provides an after school program for kids, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., and will also provide a summer program.
   "Our first contact when we decided to do a business drive fundraiser was Bright Wood, and we are thrilled that they agreed to back us at such a substantial level," said drive chairman Tony Ahern. "The Stovalls (the owners of Bright Wood) are always so supportive of youth and family programs in our community, and we're very grateful that they see the value in The Kids Club."
   Club officials will be contacting several area business owners and operators over the next several weeks seeking contributions.
   "We hope our businesses see the tremendous value that the program provides our kids and our community's families, and that they do what the can to help out," said Ahern. "Every contribution helps, and is an investment in Madras and Jefferson County."
   The Jefferson County Youth Organization Inc., which formed in the fall to establish The Kids Club, is projecting operation costs to range from $160,000 to $200,000 annually, depending on several variables, primarily the number of kids served and staffing required.
   A Bean Foundation commitment of $60,000 per year for the next five years was announced in December. The JCYO plans to conduct a private party fund drive later in the year, and will hold a dinner and auction in the fall.
   "We won't spend more than we have, but our goal is to create a very strong, stable youth organization that the community and their families can depend on," said Kat Beebee, chair of the JCYO.
   In January, The Kids Club of Jefferson County took over full operations of what was formerly the Madras Branch of the Central Oregon Boys and Girls Club. Many of the former Boys and Girls Club employees were rehired, including club director Melinda Freeman. Angie Madden, a former Boys and Girls Club Madras Branch director, was hired by the JCYO in November as executive director, and works part time.
   Drive for the Club contributions can be mailed to The Kids Club, P.O. Box 571, Madras, OR 97741. Tax-deductible contributions -- the JCYO is in the process of obtaining nonprofit status -- can be made out to the Bean Foundation, with Kids Club in the memo, and mailed to the club's address.
   For further information on the drive, contact Ahern at 475-2275, or Madden at 475-7208. More details are available on the advertisement on page 7.
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