The youth of Benson will once again be able to shoot some hoops, mingle with the cops and hear a motivational message.
For the seventh year in a row, the Benson Police Department is sponsoring Friday Night Hoops at the Lee Street Gym, starting Friday.
The event runs every other week through Aug. 24 and is free to any child age 5 to 18 years old. The event is hosted by Benson Parks and Recreation staff and the Benson Police Department.
According to Benson P.D. Administrative Assistant Amanda Mitchell, who is heading up the program this year, she has already gotten a positive response from last year’s participants, many who have been a part of the program in the past.
“We had about 75 kids last year with most coming back to play every time,” she said. “Most parents drop their kids off and leave with the comfort of knowing they will be taken care of by all of the staff, including the police officers.”
Ms. Mitchell said players are divided according to age group, which adds to both the fairness and the fun.
“The kids are always excited, especially the younger ones,” she said. “They are separated into age groups so everyone has a chance to play fairly.”
The program was developed to provide an alternative to just hanging around and possibly getting into trouble and has picked up sponsorship from towns throughout the community in support.
“I have got several sponsors to donate money and others to provide food every night of the event,” Ms. Mitchell said. “We use the money to purchase T-shirts for the staff, sponsors and all the kids, along with additional items to go with the food provided by each sponsor.”
This year will also feature motivational speakers at each session of Friday Night Hoops according to Ms. Mitchell.
“I have also gotten a speaker for each night to give a positive message to the kids along with help from volunteer Faith Simmons,” Ms. Mitchell said. “Ms. Simmons has provided the speaker for four of the six nights.”
Ms. Mitchell said the color of T-shirts, which is very important to the participants, has been decided for this year.
“During Community Day in May I asked several kids that came out last year who stopped by the police booth if they were ready to come back and they all said yes,” Ms. Mitchell said. “I also asked some of the kids what color shirt they wanted this year and all of them said Carolina Blue, so that’s what they are getting this season.”
Each child under the age of 16 must have parents sign them up for the program on the first night, June 15. At that time they will receive a T-shirt which will be their pass to each of the other nights.
For more information on the program, contact the Benson Police Department at 919-894-2091.