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Oprah's 'Big Give' to help to DL Boys and Girls Club

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The Boys and Girls Club of Detroit Lakes is getting a nice gift, thanks to reality television.

Program Director Stacy Heinlein received word Tuesday that the club is a recipient of money from Oprah's Big Give.

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According to Oprah's Big Give Web site, the TV show "defies television convention with the bold idea of people competing to give rather than get. A diverse, determined and competitive group of 10 people are given the challenge of a lifetime -- to change the lives of complete strangers in the most creative and dramatic ways."

On March 25, Tahnee Moe, a program staffer at the Boys and Girls Club, mentioned to Heinlein that Oprah's Big Give program had paired with WDAY and was giving four different non-profit organizations $2,500 each.

To enter, Heinlein, Moe and Head Cook Barb Mitchell got together, brainstormed a topic and wrote an essay.

The essay was on what needs the club has, and then how it would make that money grow, and how it would use that money, Heinlein said.

"So, we sat down and thought, where could we use this money the most? Many ideas. But we all decided to do it on hunger and feeding our members here at the club," she said.

They submitted the essay and waited. On Tuesday, Heinlein received a phone call from WDAY saying the Boys and Girls Club had been chosen as one of the recipients of the $2,500. A news piece on the club will be broadcast Friday at 6 p.m. on WDAY.

"It was unexpected," she said of being chosen. "She (the representative from WDAY) said she was just so intrigued by our story and that it was just so interesting."

According to the essay that Heinlein submitted to WDAY, hunger can be an issue for children in the area.

"Hunger is a daily issue we face in our community. Living in Becker County we are among the five poorest counties in the state of Minnesota. We, as staff of the Boys and Girls Club of Detroit Lakes, see an increasing number of children attend our club daily for a safe and positive place to be. Many of the children attend the club because they know they will get a healthy home-made or home-baked snack and meal each day.

In 2007, the club averaged 30 children per day for dinner and it now serves more then 70 children per day.

With the increasing food costs to families, more parents are utilizing the club to feed their children, "which makes our budget increase immensely," Heinlein wrote. "We would utilize the $2,500 to expand our kitchen facilities, to accommodate the growing need we have daily and the years to come with the growth of our organization. We would like to purchase a double wall oven and another stove because we do not have enough oven or stove space to cook and bake for 70 to 100 children daily."

The club's mission is to enable all young people, "especially those that need us most," to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens, she added.

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