Basketball tournament will benefit Peterborough after-school programBy MEGHAN PIERCE
Union Leader Correspondent March 10. 2013 8:53PM
PETERBOROUGH -- THE PLACE To Go/Kids Together program is celebrating its 20th year with its 20th annual 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament this Saturday and Sunday at South Meadow School.
The tournament helps to raise the funds needed to keep the free after-school program going throughout the school year.
"This is one of our major fundraisers for the year," said Wendy Boxer, a co-founder and assistant director of the program. "It's become a really big fun, family gathering."
In the two-day fundraiser, three-member teams compete in round-robin eliminations based on age group, so there are winners in each division. The tournament is for anyone in grade three to adult.
The tournament includes raffles and prizes, and a half-court shot contest sponsored by American Steel, which will donate $100 for each of the first five successful half-court shots. Successful shooters will win a top-quality basketball. There is also the tennis ball toss, sponsored by New Hampshire Ball Bearings for all age groups.
The program offers three supervised afternoons a week in the basement of the Monadnock Country Club functions hall.
The program relies on donations to pay expenses including rent and small salaries for its three employees.
An army of volunteers also keeps the program going.
The program for children in third to the eighth grade was originally for about 25 children, but was expanded in recent years to about 35 children due to the economic stress many families are under these days, Boxer said.
The goals of the program are to offer children a structured family environment that includes a meal, free play, and homework and study time.
"We're trying to get back the old-fashion knowledge of not having an adult supervise their play," Boxer said.
The program is open to all but has a waiting list, and Boxer finds it's most beneficial for working and single parents.
Boxer recalled a story about a girl in the program who after she aged out of the program showed up one afternoon.
"She went to the high school and went home and was locked out and didn't know what to do, so she came to us. We were really touched, and that's what we're here for," Boxer said.
Peterborough mom Sarah Hamlin, a Thursday afternoon volunteer and parent, was there to bake with the children. Other days she organizes a craft.
Three of her five children are in the program, Tony Joyce, 14, Jocelyn Joyce, 12, and Ben Hamlin, 10.
A stay-at-home mom, the program was suggested to Hamlin when Tony was in the fourth grade and was having trouble fitting in at school.
"For Tony it was originally a way for him to make friends," said Hamlin said, but Jocelyn also joined and it was ideal for her as well.
"She's my little miss social, so it gave her an outlet," Hamlin said.
Ben is autistic and also benefits from being in the program, she said.
"They offer a structured environment that includes homework time, includes time for the kids to run around and be kids, and includes a safe environment for parents to leave their kids in," Hamlin said.
The program was also vital to the family when an undiagnosed rare illness caused her to go into liver failure, and she was bed-ridden for about a year.
"When I was really sick they helped out a lot. They drove the kids to and from my house," Hamlin said. "Without this program I would have really been hurt cause my husband was able to work because they had this after school program."
Tony who ages out of the program this year said he will miss his friends and the fun, playing basketball and other sports.
"Everybody here is my friend," he said, including the volunteers and program directors. "It's a like a big family."
To register a team for the tournament go to www.theplacetogo.org. For more information, contact Wendy Boxer at 924-7940 or Chris Goodwin at 831-0935, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.