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A matter of character
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The other day as I was walking through one of our local big box stores, a group of teenagers walked by. The girls had their butts hanging out of their pants and the boys had their pants hanging half way down their legs. They were talking loudly and spouting language that used to get your mouth washed out with soap.

It’s not that I have been hiding in a closet somewhere and haven’t seen this type of action from our young people, but when it smacks you right between your eyes, it still sets you back on your heels.

I starting thinking, what separates the group I just saw from the kids who are members of our local Boys and Girls Club? I believe it’s character.

The Boys and Girls Clubs of America have been in existence since the 1860s, and since that time they have turned out millions of kids who have found a safe haven and have learned to have respect and determination for their families and strangers alike. They have also learned to be team players, an almost lost art in today’s new world order.

My family has a long history of being involved with the Boys and Girls Club. My dad was a member of the Georgetown, D.C., Boys Club. He used to drive 60 miles a day to pick me up and take me to the same club.

I can remember my club. It was filled with laughing, active kids. We played sports and games, and the days spent there were over quicker than I ever wished.

Since that time I have had the opportunity to serve on Boys and Girls Club boards across the country.

I have never been involved with any club that has not provided the same safety and excitement that I personally enjoyed.

Our Barksdale Club today is like a beehive of activity. Kids are doing their homework, learning to cook, creating plays and writing poems, participating in leadership programs, learning computer skills and, yes, playing sports and games.

Some things never change.

If you were to visit our local club — and you are always welcome — you will see kids who are laughing and are participating in team activities.

They are being led and guided by caring, well trained professionals.

Because of all of this activity, you can almost feel character being taught almost through osmosis.

The other great thing about our local club is that, although there is a small fee charged, no one is turned away because their family can’t pay; scholarships are given through the generosity of folks like you.

Which brings me the point of this whole story. Next Saturday there will be a special celebration of love. It’s called Super Saturday Night, and it’s a special evening devoted to fun and merriment. There will be casino games and auctions and the best food and the most special drinks available.

This celebration of love will begin at 7 p.m., at the Georgia International Horse Park.

The tickets are only $35 a piece and the entire proceeds support our own club, the A.R. "Gus" Barksdale club.

To purchase tickets you can go to or you can e-mail me at I will be glad to deliver them to you.

If you are not available for some great fun next weekend, you can donate what you can or your time. Use the same contact information to find out more.

If you would just like to talk about the character the club helps build with our community children, contact me. I will be glad to talk to you in person about it.

As a community we are blessed to have an active Boys and Girls Club. Through your efforts it will continue to build that solid character that I have been talking about.