DENISON, TX-A local Boys and Girls Club saw a jump in members after another club closed its after school activities a few months ago, but that's not the only reason they're growing.
Denison Boys and Girls Club officials said they've seen 50% more children in their facility since August. And while some of the kids came over after the Salvation Army Club shut down its after school program, many others joined because of an innovative new program meant to reach out to more kids in need.
Gary Clark's son, Donovan, attended the Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club since he was in kindergarten. But after the club shut down its after school program in August, Donovan joined the Denison Boys and Girls Club.
"I understand the budget that they had going on and having to raise the prices on it. It influenced us having to leave there and having to find a cheaper route. It's a great place to go to but I just hate to see it shut down," he said.
Denison Boys and Girls Club Athletic Director, Ron Nixon, said now, many of those kids come to the Denison club.
"We run probably another almost 100 more kids now compared to then for our facilities all together and we have a constant flux of kids coming in daily," he said.
Nixon said another 50 kids joined the club through the new off-site, after school programs at Terrell and Hyde Park elementary schools that started this August.
"We have a growing number of under served youth in our community. And the more under served youth we have in our community, we enable to provide a program at a low cost for those kids to come here after school versus, again, be at home by themselves," he said.
Clark said after school activities have a positive impact on kids, like his son.
"It's just something that keeps him from getting bored from coming home from school and not having anything to do and sit around playing video games at home in the computer. It gives him something to do, interacting with the other children," he said.
And Nixon said, it will also help keep kids out of trouble.
"I think it's very important for kids to come to clubs. It keeps them out of trouble and it keeps them busy and active to where they're always active not just being with other kids and being interactive with kids. It helps them grow and build good relationships for their future," he said.
Denison Boys and Girls Club Executive Director Patrick Guarino said they are looking to add more schools for their off-site, after school program. He said they've already hired five new people to keep up with the increase and they will be applying for more grants to help with growth in the spring.