Poplarville Rotary gets big donation

Published 5:52 pm Thursday, December 7, 2006

Possibly the largest private donation was given to the Poplarville Rotary Club and the Lower Pearl River Valley Foundation Wednesday afternoon.

That donation will be used to fund an after school program that is currently going on in Bay St. Louis but will begin in January for Poplarville and Pearl River Central.

“When people come together good things happen,” said Lower Pearl River Valley president Clyde Dease.

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During the unveiling of the donation a video was shown portraying the projects the rotary club and LPRVF put together in what is called the Safe Harbor program. That program gave children affected by Hurricane Katrina things to do by keeping them active, educated and providing mental help.

“It gave the kids something to get them out of FEMA trailers, gave them something constructive to do,” said Bay St. Louis-Waveland assistant superintendent Becky Ladner in a press release.

National Recreation Foundation president Jim Donnelley said that the $500,000 donation they presented Wednesday was the largest they have given in the history of the organization.

“And I can assure you this will not bounce,” Donnelley said as he presented the check.

To show their appreciation the rotary club and the LPRVF they presented Donnelley with a cross constructed from debris collected on the Gulf Coast after the storm. The sculpture had house key in the middle of the tile, pottery and other debris.

The large contribution will be used to continue to fund the after school programs and possibly the Safe Harbor Program through the LPRVF, said Dr. Ted Alexander with the LPRVF. Dawn Bechtel with the Poplarville School District said the after school program in Bay St. Louis-Waveland is currently in action, but the programs in Pearl River Central and Poplarville will begin in January. These programs are especially important for children after an incident like Katrina.

“Trauma for children lasts a lot longer than it does for adults,” Alexander said.

In those school districts the programs will take place on each of the school campuses so the children will not need to be bused anywhere. At those after school programs a number of activities will be offered for grades K through 12, Bechtel said. The activities will include help with homework and a number of other suggestions that each school can choose from. Choices include such activities as Dance Dance Revolution, kickball, dodgeball, baseball.

If the funds are budgeted well enough they will be used to fund the Safe Harbor program scheduled to take place again in the summer, Alexander said.