LUMBERTON — The director of the Boys and Girls Club of Robeson County is hoping a new grant will make winners out of the club’s members by steering them away from gambling.
According to Ron Ross, the club was one of 10 organizations in the state selected for a $5,000 grant for a six-week program called “Stacked Deck.”
“There’s a lot more young people gambling than people think,” Ross said. “If you have a child, he or she can get your credit card, go online and gamble. They don’t have to have proof of ID or anything.”
Ross became aware of the grant last year and contacted Jon Rayle, coordinator for the N.C. Problem Gambling Prevention, an initiative of the N.C. Department of Health and Human Resources. The grant was originally designated for 10 schools across the state.
“He said, ‘Ron, I think Boys and Girls Club in Lumberton and Robeson County would be ideal for this program,’” Ross said. Ross also recommended the Boys and Girls Clubs of Cumberland County and Raleigh, and both were awarded grant money.
Rayle could not be reached for this story.
The program originally targeted children ages 12 and up, but Ross wanted to reach out to all 500 kids in the Robeson County club. Ross said the children will take part in the program after being divided according to age group: ages 6 to 9, 10 to 12, and 13 and up.
“Kids are impressionable,” he said. “A parent may come home and say, unintentionally, ‘Hey, I won $10 on this scratch-off.’ But what they don’t say is, ‘I lost $20 last week on the scratch-off.’ They don’t say what they lost, they say what they won.”
Ross points to the success of other programs the club has implemented as testimony to his confidence in the anti-gambling program. Last year, the club’s after-school homework program served more than 500 children.
“Not one of our kids failed a grade last year,” Ross said. “Not one of them dropped out of school, and not one of them got in trouble with the law.”