JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Five days a week, there are usually hundreds of kids hoping off the school bus after class and heading to one of the four Boys & Girls Clubs of Jackson County.
"We are serving, annually, close to 680 kids, and it has grown from 400 children over the last two years," Chief Financial Officer Catherine Glaude said.
Nayah Ford has attended the Pascagoula club for four years. She said the club has helped improve her grades and attitude.
"It made me think about my choices and what I have to have in the future and what goals I need to get me there. So, ever since I have been going to the Boys and Girls Club, it has changed my life around," said Nayah.
Club officials say there are a lot more success stories in Jackson County thanks to the support, educational activities, computer training and exercise the clubs provide after school and during the summer.
"We are developing strong citizens that will be our leaders for tomorrow and will operate this county and go off and do great things," Glaude said.
As the need increases at these clubs, the funding is decreasing.
"I would say our grants have been cut by 30 percent, and that is a large amount. We would love to serve 8,000 or 9,000 kids, but my budget wouldn't allow it," Glaude said.
The hope is that more South Mississippians will dig deep into their pockets and help provide the extra support needed for the kids.
"We are in dire need of tables and chairs. We also need snacks, pencils, paper. If you don't want to make a monetary donation, you can always make one of school supplies," said Glaude.
By helping the organization, club officials say you are helping the youth across the county.
"Every dollar is an investment in these children's lives," said Glaude.
If you would like to donate, please call The Boys and Girls Club of Jackson County at 228-762-3497.
The 15th annual Lights on After School event will be held Thursday to shine a light on the need for programs like The Boys and Girls Club. The event will start at 5 p.m. at both Pascagoula units on Tucker Avenue and the Gautier unit on Ladnier Road.