BURGETTSTOWN, Pa. - Jim Reedy, Burgettstown Kids Center director, is looking forward to another year of serving the community.
The center has been offering children's and community activities and adult education for more than a decade.
"It's been a staple of the community for more than 10 years, helping to provide multiple activities for kids and adults in the community," said Reedy.
CRAFT TIME — Children participate in a Valentine’s Day craft activity in Feburary at the Burgettstown Kids Center. Center officials look forward to another busy year. -- Summer Wallace-Minger
The center offers adult education classes and General Equivalency Diploma testing from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Reedy added no appointments are neccessary, and anyone wanting to take classes can arrive any time. The GED test will change next year, becoming more computer-oriented and difficult.
"They are going to change testing and people who have started and those who want to get (their GED) - the time is now," said Reedy. "It will be a little bit tougher, so if they feel they are in need, feel free to come down."
A job developer also is available to help with resume building and job instruction at request.
"We are here to help the community in any and all ways," he said.
The center also hosts craft nights, adult and children's bingo nights, dances and family movie nights during evenings and weekends throughout the year.
"They are all free and open to the public," said Reedy.
A monthly calendar including all the scheduled activities for the month is distributed regularly through the Burgettstown Area School District.
The kids center also hosts a variety of special events throughout the year, beginning with the annual Easter egg hunt which is regularly attended by more than 100 children each year and is held each year at the Main Street Park.
Volunteers hide thousands of plastic eggs throughout the park, and the event also features a visit from the Easter Bunny.
In the mid-summer, Reedy and kids center volunteers assist with the annual Burgettstown Community Days, which is held in the parking lot shared by the borough municipal building, Burgettstown Volunteer Fire Department and kids center and along Main Street.
"I want to thank Gregg Pavan and Janet Castellino," said Reedy. "They have formed a great committee to make things happen yearly. It's a pleasure to be on it with them."
Community days features dance, musical and variety acts, vendors, a variety of foods, inflatables, eating contests, petting zoo and carnival games.
"It's just a good, fun activity for the community with lots of entertainment and activities," said Reedy.
The event is funded, in part, by the sale of banners to area businesses, churches, organizations, community and service groups and families and individuals. The banners are hung throughout downtown for six to eight weeks.
"I want to thank those who purchase the banners for their support," he said.
The kids center's primary funding is through donations and fundraisers, and one of the largest is during the annual Hanover Covered Bridge Car Show.
"When you take part in a fundraiser, you can feel good, knowing that it is going back to help the community," said Reedy. "One hundred percent of the money goes into the community."
The kids center is one of the food vendors during the car show, which is held in August at the Hanover Township Park.
"For the last few years, it's been one of our big fundraisers, and we love being part of it," said Reedy. "I want to thank (organizer) Ralph Farulli for having us - a big shout out to him for allowing us to be involved, it helps tremendously."
In the fall, the kids center hosts a Halloween party, and it will be held at the Main Street Park, weather permitting. The event includes music, refreshments and crafts for the children.
"It is our biggest party of the year," said Reedy. "It sees 200 plus kids easily."
In November, the center's breakfast with Santa is usually held the weekend following Thanksgiving, and the children of the community are invited to make a craft, get a treat and visit - and have their picture taken - with Santa.
In early December, the kids center is behind the annual Light Up Night at the park, where area businesses, churches and organizations are invited to decorate one of 40 Christmas trees, which are lit throughout the holiday season.
Light Up Night itself kicks off the holiday season with musical performances, caroling, refreshments and a visit from Santa.
"It's a good community activity that gets the Christmas spirit going," said Reedy.
Those decorating trees compete for one of three judged prizes or the people's choice, which is based on the greatest number of votes from those attending the event. As one of the largest events of the year, a battalion of volunteers are on hand to haul and set up trees, set up electric and serve refreshments.
"Our volunteer group is tremendous," said Reedy. "A special thanks to all of our volunteers, whether they volunteer once a year or every day."
Reedy added he drew inspiration from local volunteer Clara Alvarez and the Restoration and Beautification Committee in his own volunteer efforts.
"They work hard to create some beauty in town through planting flowers and making improvements," he said. "I get inspiration from her - she'll be out there, digging in rocks, trying to plant gerianums."
The year ends with a special Christmas dance for the children in the community, including treat bags and a visit from Santa, sponsored by local business Call Center Solutions.
"They brought the magic of Christmas to many young kids in our community," said Reedy. "We look forward to working with them in the future."
Reedy said he and the kids center staff and volunteers are looking forward to another year of activities.
"We wish all the community a happy New year, and we can't wait to see them again in 2013," he said.
(Wallace-Minger can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)