HARLINGEN — They collect quarters and dollars at a time, maybe pulling in $25 to $30 on game nights.
The Le Moyne Gardens Torch Club members for years have worked the concession stand there for Boys & Girls Club competitions, selling cupcakes, popcorn, candy and more. Those efforts have paid off.
But, these kids ages 10 to 14, who live in this low-income housing project area near the Harlingen airport, aren’t raising money to buy iPhones, clothes or cool new athletic shoes.
They’re collecting money to give back to the community.
During last week’s 50th anniversary of the Harlingen Boys & Girls Club event, the kids stunned leaders of the Harlingen Police Department with one of the many donations they have made over the years.
The club, which is made up of kids learning how to be leaders, handed over a $300 check to Harlingen Police Chief Jeffry Adickes and his team in what Adickes called an “emotional presentation.”
The check was given to support injured SWAT officer Charles Duhamel, who suffered injuries to his right hand and arm following a March 31 raid in which he was trying to protect members of his team.
While some may say the dollar figure isn’t impressive, others know it’s all about the gesture and effort to give back to the community.
“These kids on their own raised money for our injured SWAT officer and his family,” Adickes stated on his Facebook page just minutes after the presentation. “In some communities in our nation today, there are children that would harm an officer if afforded an opportunity. In Harlingen, these kids are very rich in heart and love, that some may never understand.”
Hilda Gathright, the director of the Le Moyne Gardens unit, never doubted her kids and showed excitement and pride for the youth and their efforts.
“They are from public housing, but we talk about refusing to accept they have to live that way forever,” Hilda said.
That’s why work such as being involved in the community and giving back is so important.
“These kids are just awesome and they feel that when they give back, they say they are so blessed in return,” Hilda said.
Harlingen Boys & Girls Club Executive Director Gerald Gathright explained how the project was started.
He said a few years ago, some of the kids asked if the group could sell cupcakes at the sports games held there in Le Moyne Gardens.
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