It's a carnival-like atmosphere at Boys & Girls Club fund-raiser

Mardi Gras Dinner and Auction set for this Saturday evening

By PATTI SELLS, News-Telegram Feature Writer

March 27, 2008 - Excitement is in the air and a carnival atmosphere is taking shape at the Fellowship Hall of First United Methodist Church, where the Boys and Girls Club of Sulphur Springs is preparing for its Mardi Gras Dinner & Auction beginning at 6 p.m. this Saturday.

"It's really a celebration of children," said Patsy Johnson, chairman of the club's 4th annual dinner and auction. "This is our major fund-raiser for the year, and what we make is very important. The kids really depend on it."

According to Johnson, proceeds from the event help to make the club's facility operational, as well as providing money to match grants that the Boys and Girls Club may receive throughout the year.

The Club recently relocated to the old Houston School, allowing for extra space to serve the more than 100 Hopkins County children enrolled in the program.

"It's a great building, the answer to our dreams, really," said Charles Dawson, Boys and Girls Club president. "But it takes hard work and a lot of dollars to turn a schoolhouse into a clubhouse. But we're getting there, and we're serving more kids every month."

"It really has given us a new lease on life," Johnson added of the building that includes not only classrooms but a mini-gym and kitchen, as well.

The Boys and Girls Club of Sulphur Springs serves approximately 150 children during the summer months and 135 after-school students the rest of the year. The goal of the organization's staff members and volunteers is to emphasize character building, help with homework, teach computer skills and train in athletics. More recently, a dance class, the Dixie Darlings, has been added and will even be performing at the event.

A jazz band will also be on hand to entertain, and one of the Club's young members will share with the crowd what the Boys and Girls Club has meant to her.

"The community has really supported us and shown us that they want us here in Sulphur Springs," said Johnson. "There are just so many positive activities for them to do."

According to Dawson, individuals and business have provided a tremendous amount of support in helping them prepare for the Saturday night event by donating gift items for the auction.

"What we need now is for a good crowd to materialize, load up on some wonderful food and bid heavy on the auction goods," he said.

Local auctioneer Wade Bartley will be taking bids on everything from dessert every month for a year to flat-screen televisions, airline tickets, parties for 10 at Chuck E. Cheese, as well as a night at the new Great Wolf Lodge in Grapevine.

The Sulphur Springs Blue Blazes will be helping serve a choice of steak or grilled hamburgers with all the fixings, as well as drinks and desserts.

Tickets are $35 and can be purchased at the door, or call Maleta Reynolds at 903-885-5314 for reservations.

"This year we will be giving away door prizes throughout the evening," Johnson added. "It's just going to be a fun, laid-back event for all ages to enjoy. We are so appreciative of the community and want them to know we couldn't do this without them."

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