The Hillyard Lions Club issued a challenge to all other local Lions, Kiwanis and Rotary clubs Monday morning: The club donated $500 to the Spokane Parks Foundation Make a Splash for the Kids fundraising effort and challenged everyone else to match or exceed the donation.
Children will have to pay $1 to go swimming in Spokane pools this summer and various groups are trying to raise money to cover some of those fees.
“As you know the Parks Department put a fee on swimming at the city pools,” Bill Brewer, president of the Hillyard Lions Club, wrote in the letter announcing the challenge. “We all know that this will make a real hardship on families throughout the city, and a lot of kids won’t get to swim this coming year.”
Brewer writes that he hopes other civic groups and local businesses will rise to the occasion and donate money as well.
Volunteers for Make a Splash for the Kids have been meeting on a regular basis for the last couple of months.
At a meeting last week, they batted around several fundraising ideas.
The group’s goal is to raise enough money to fund 2,000 summer passes.
“The criterion is that if you get a free lunch, you can ask for a swim fee pass,” said Brenda Corbett of East Central, who’s been leading the fundraising effort. “We will probably work with the families through the community centers.”
Don Kaufman, of Valley Partners for Kids, said they already have 845 free passes for city of Spokane Valley pools.
Toni Nersesian, executive director of the Spokane Parks Foundation, encouraged the group to try and find corporate sponsors. She said more than 43 percent of students in Spokane County public schools lived at or significantly below the poverty level in 2009.
“That is more than 34,000 kids. Financial times are hard, and many businesses are already very involved in giving to certain cases,” Nersesian said. “It’s difficult to find businesses that will support this effort.”