SCRANTON — Imagine a child in a room with the shades drawn, home alone, his or her mother gone to work. It’s summertime, and he or she should be outside playing with friends, but it isn’t safe out on the streets.
This is a scenario described by Mary Carroll Donahoe, director of development at The United Neighborhood Centers of Northeastern Pennsylvania (UNC), to illustrate the lives of many children who attend the organization’s Project Hope Summer Camp at Camp St. Andrew in Tunkhannock.
The UNC will once again use a unique form of fundraising to provide a camp experience for these children: the game of kickball.
Donahoe said the idea came about last year when the UNC’s auxiliary board was “kicking around ideas – no pun intended.”
The second annual Kicks for Kids kickball tournament will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 4 at Scranton High School’s Valor Field at Veterans Memorial Stadium. Open to teams of all ages, from teens through adults, registration is open through May 20 for a $200 donation per team of 10 players. Each team member will receive a custom T-shirt and the winning team will be awarded a trophy.
According to event co-chair Kellen Kraky, of Scott Township, last year’s event raised a little under $10,000, and this year’s promises to be “bigger and better.” The UNC’s goal for this year is to raise $25,000, so they can make a difference in even more children’s lives by sending them to camp.
“United Neighborhood Centers does a really good job of bringing a lot of kids to Project Hope for the summer,” Kraky said. “Which allows kids to have a good way to spend their summer, allowing them to be engaged in all different activities. They play basketball, kickball, are able to use the lake, things like that.”
Co-chair Carrie Hodovanec, also of Scott Township, described the event as “a lot of fun,” with “a lot of enthusiasm and some great competition.”
She added the event also serves to raise awareness for UNC and Project Hope.
“UNC has a lot of great success stories about kids who are growing up in gang environments, with broken homes and just a lot of tragedy in their lives,” she said. “And UNC is trying to get their arms around them, to really inspire them and to motivate them and to do everything they can, in order to give them the future that we know they are capable of having.”
Committee member Terry Nealon, of Clarks Green, said this is the best aspect of the event.
“To be able to send hundreds of kids to the camp, to have an experience they may not otherwise have, is the most gratifying part,” he said. “The more teams we get, the more kids we get to send to camp.”
To register for the tournament online, visit uncnepa.org/events, or for more information, call the UNC at 570-346-0759.