By Sallie James
    
    The financially struggling Boca Raton Children’s Museum is hanging on by a thread, thanks to a stream of donations totaling about $7,500 that will enable the nonprofit to continue operating through June. Museum officials had hoped to raise $10,000.
    Donations began trickling in after museum Executive Director Denise St. Patrick-Bell issued a plea for help on April 22, when she outlined the museum’s dire financial straits at a Boca Raton City Commission meeting.
    St. Patrick-Bell proposed the city share museum costs by providing an annual $150,000 grant. However, the city has made no decision on her proposal.
    “Donations are still coming in and we are still encouraging people to donate,” St. Patrick-Bell said recently. “We are encouraged. These are tough times for everybody. We have gotten some donations as high as $500 but we are accepting whatever.”
    In mid-April, St. Patrick-Bell told city officials the museum would run out of money on April 30 because donations have been sparse and grants scarce. The museum operates on a $300,000 annual budget, with three full-time and five part-time employees.
    Boca Raton Mayor Susan Haynie said the city is prepared to take over the operation of the museum if no other solution can be found.
    Another nonprofit agency — so far not publicly unidentified — is evaluating the feasibility of partnering with the Children’s Museum to continue operations, Haynie said. Discussions are ongoing.

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