By Joey McWilliams
DURANT – The community will come together once again to support the Durant Boys & Girls Club at the 2018 Crystal Ball on Saturday night.
A formal night out and more, the Crystal Ball is the biggest fundraiser of the year for the local youth outreach.
The event takes place again this year at the Choctaw Event Center. It is an evening of cocktails, dinner and dancing. There will also be a presentation of the 2017 Durant Boys & Girls Club Youth of the Year, given to recognize the Club member who exemplifies outstanding character, has shown personal growth and demonstrates strong leadership qualities.
Doors open at 6 p.m. with registration and a silent auction. Dinner and the rest of the program get underway at 7 p.m. The final portion of the night includes dancing and a performance by the group Mix Tape.
Larry Long, executive director of the Club, said there is a lot of work heading up to the evening, but that it is a great time.
“The night of the ball is exciting for the people that come and participate,” Long said. “We have a nice auction and a nice program. People get to come and dance and have a good time.”
The Durant location of the Boys & Girls Club serves about 550 kids, and Long said about 200 or so come every day and do their homework, have a good meal and do all kinds of activities.
He stressed the importance of this weekend’s event.
“Crystal Ball raises a lot of money,” Long said. “We couldn’t survive without it. Our budget is probably around $600,000 a year. The Crystal Ball will probably bring in about $125,000, or hopefully more. This year is looking really good.”
Kari Walker, who serves on the committee for the planning of the Crystal Ball, said this is her favorite event of the year.
“It is something that Durant started, so just seeing the accomplishments of what our club has done, and then watching everybody in the community celebrate together, is very heartwarming and fun.,” Walker said.
“And it’s also great opportunity to see everyone in the community.”
The Durant Boys & Girls Club has a staff that includes Long and two others who work full time, six part-time staffers and 14 students from Southeastern who assist.
Youth and children at least 5 years old and in kindergarten can attend and the age range extends up through 18-year-olds. And there is much for them to do when they arrive following the school day.
“After their homework is done, we take them in the cafeteria and feed them,” Long said. “We have a nutritious dinner for them, a full component meal. And then after that, some age groups will go to the library and do work in the library – cultural arts and artwork in the library. Some go to the computer lab and do work on the computer. And some go to the gym for physical activity.
“We have a teen center where the teenagers all go. They have their own area back there with pool tables and ping pong tables and a learning area. Lots of different things. If it’s warm enough, we go outside.
Admission to the Crystal Ball is $100 per ticket and there are few remaining. Tickets can be ordered online at begreatdurant.com