Athletics for Education and Success, a local nonprofit daycare center, is holding a series of fundraisers to build a new gymnasium.
The gym at AFES' new location, the former Hillcrest Elementary building, is adequate for elementary-age children, but not the middle or high school-age children the program also serves, said Charles Clayton, AFES executive director.
"The gym that we've got is more made for elementary school kids," he said. "All of middle school sports, which is basketball, volleyball, dodgeball, that gym just doesn't function for it. So we're going to have to build our own gym."
Depending on its size, a new gym will cost between $500,000 to $1 million.
"Of course, we'd like the million-dollar gym because that's going to make it so that many more kids we can get in there. We would really like to serve a need that elementary, middle school-age youth, this is going to be their gym."
To raise the funds, AFES is working with the city on a large grant from MIDAS Council of Governments. AFES is also doing monthly fundraisers, including a raffle and planning a series of events for both families and for adults alone. Last month, AFES raffled an iPod Nano and recently held a Halloween blowout for families.
"We're looking at bringing either a jazz or blues band to do something small in our gym, for an adult-type thing," Clayton said. "We'll do one of those three every month, on top of a big grant."
Clayton said he'll also be approaching businesses and individuals in the community for private donations.
For Friday, AFES will offer a yet-to-be-determined entertainment in its gymnasium. Also starting that weekend, Clayton hopes the gym will be open for indoor paintball.
"Paintballers in the area can come in and use the gym also," he said. "That's another way for us to start raising some funds."
Next month, AFES will have another raffle. Clayton is approaching area restaurants for gift certificate donations. AFES is also receiving autographed basketballs, hats and T-shirts from Iowa State and from college athlete Harrison Barnes for a future silent auction.
If the funds can't be raised for the new gym, Clayton said, AFES will have to eliminate its programs for its middle school-age kids. There are more than 70 in AFES' basketball program.
AFES' after-school program serves more than 80 kids daily from the Fort Dodge and surrounding areas, Clayton said. In the wintertime, there will be more than 100, he said. AFES also serves another 100 kids, grades kindergarten through eighth, with its basketball program.
"We're looking at 200 kids just at AFES that will be utilizing such a building," he said. "And then you throw in other boys and girls, other area traveling teams, or if youths and families just want to be able come in and get some activities in the gym, we easily think that daily usage can get up to 200 to 400 kids a day."
Clayton said community support for AFES will help the center in receiving the grant from MIDAS.
"We'd like all of the community support we can get, not only in dollars, but also coming to the events, the fundraisers, lending us support," he said. "It'll be huge between now and with the big grant with MIDAS. That grant's due maybe in February, so we have a lot of work to do between now and then to prove we're worthy."
Contact Brandon L. Summers at (515) 573-2141 or firstname.lastname@example.org