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Boys, Girls Clubs keeping members active online, providing emergency child care

Boys, Girls Clubs keeping members active online, providing emergency child care

From the Tucson-area coronavirus coverage from January to March: Nearly 1,300 cases in Arizona, stay-at-home order series
  • Updated

COVID-19 may have shuttered schools, but Boys & Girls Clubs of Tucson is taking clubhouse activities online to continue support for Tucson students and their families.

“Lots of kids are homebound with their families and they are so attached to the club staff that we want to make sure they keep making meaningful connections each day. We know kids are experiencing more anxiety with everything that is happening and the programs that clubs are participating in virtually are really impactful. They help kids feel like they are still connected during this stressful time,” said Debbie Wagner, CEO of the clubs.

Clubhouse “On the Go” virtual programming is offered through individual clubhouse Facebook pages and other social media; visit to find a link to programming with six local clubhouses.

Programs range from meditation, exercise and wellness to arts and crafts activities as well as reading and STEM lessons for kids ages 7 to 17. Programming also includes inspirational messages and tips about safety and healthy lifestyles.

“We are virtually continuing some of the programming that kids are participating in at clubhouses, such as our Quarterback Club, through which kids try to clock 100 hours of exercise. Virtually, we show kids exercises that they can do at home. David Jimenez from the Roy Drachman clubhouse also shows kids how easy it is to plant a garden. We are also working on “Club to Go” bags to send home that correspond to the programs: We would send home seeds for gardening and art supplies for the art classes and some snacks. We hope to start that next week or the following week,” said Wagner.

Wagner said it is imperative to continue support for the children who have traditionally utilized the clubs’ after-school and summer programs. She said the programs offer a stabilizing force for 4,100 members; more than 12,000 youth are served in various programs through clubhouses annually.

“Our mission is to serve the kids that need us the most. This is an unprecedented time for all of us; we have never been through something like this but we need to continue to stay strong as a community. We will do our part to serve these kids and their families during this critical time,” Wagner said.

Fulfilling that role also includes providing emergency child care for the workers employed in essential and critical services through the Frank & Edith Morton Clubhouse, located at 3155 E. Grant Road.

This child-care program was started in response to COVID-19 and will serve up to 60 children ages 5 to 12 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays.

The clubhouse follows CDC guidelines, taking the temperatures of children, parents and staff daily. It also adheres to strict cleaning protocols and limits the ratio to nine children per each instructor. Applications for the program can be found online at and donations of forehead thermometers, hand sanitizers and other cleaning products are needed to support the effort.

The nonprofit is also in need of monetary donations to support all programs, particularly since it was forced to postpone The Event, which was slated for March 29, as well as The Steak & Burger Dinner scheduled in June.

The signature fundraisers were expected to bring in at least $340,000, which Wagner said was earmarked for operating and programming expenses. She hopes the public will be moved to offer monetary support in lieu of fundraiser donations if possible.

“These are our biggest fundraisers. We are not fee driven. We only charge $20 per kid for a membership for the entire school year. The money we raise to run our programs and keep our doors open really comes from individual donors, grants and partners in the community. It is really important now for the community to pull together and try to support all the nonprofits working hard to fill the gaps in Tucson,” Wagner said.

Contact freelance writer Loni Nannini at

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