School is almost here and some families may need extra help and care this year. The Boys & Girls Club of Paris is now registering students for its after-school programming.

Registrations opened last Monday for the Paris Boys & Girls Club after school program with no cost to families. According to the CEO of the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Diamond Hills Elaina Damante, the Club received a TANF grant provided by the State of Arkansas for children on a free or reduced meal plan to cover membership costs 100%.

"Because the Paris School District is 100% free meals for its students, all children attending Paris Schools will be able to attend the Club at no cost."

Based on CDC's recommended guidelines and to limit possible transmission of the coronavirus, the Club will only be accepting a fraction of the children they cared for before the pandemic. The after school program will accept just 40 children — compared to the appx 100 children who came in every day after school before COVID-19.

"We are limiting the number of children we are enrolling. We are going to start with approximately 40 membership spots for the children in Paris."

Damante said there would be no restrictions on the ages of those registered this fall, so teens will also be accepted as members again.

Parents can expect the same protocols and procedures implemented during the summer program and staff will continue to take temperatures before children enter the building and walk them out to their parents when they are picked up. Designated staff will continue to float to clean and sanitize throughout the day.

"We will follow the same protocols as the School District, so all children attending the Club will be required to wear a mask."

The Club also received funds from the Paris & Alma branch managers from Arvest Bank. They presented a $7,000 check to the Boys & Girls Club of the Diamond Hills on behalf of the Arvest Foundation. The funds went to help support the summer programs of both the Alma and Paris units for programming and operating expenses.

"It is reassuring that our club partner, the Arvest Foundation, believes in our work with the children in our communities," said Damante. "We will be utilizing the foundation's donation to feed, teach, and take care of the children. We are grateful for the support that Arvest has given us."

Heather Appleton, a spokesperson from Arvest Bank, said, "Working for Arvest is not only fulfilling for our career goals, it is heartwarming to see the dedication of the Arvest Foundation to our communities. The Boys and Girls Club of the Diamond Hills serve children in Alma, Mountainburg and Paris. They provide a safe place for children to attend during the summer when school is out and after school releases each day. They also strive to feed our children. Even when Covid-19 required the Club to close its sites they still provided to-go meals for free to any child that needed it. They also tried to provide activity packs to help keep the children engaged. When the Club is open, they provide help with schoolwork and various programs to enrich each child's education. Our community's youth will be our future. I love that the Arvest Foundation is partnering with organizations to make sure that future is bright."

The Club is still seeking community support and financial assistance.

"Although we have the grant to cover membership fees, we are still providing the same programming and activities, so donations are always welcome."

For more information on after school registration or to support the Club, contact 479-963-3577.