10894883452?profile=RESIZE_710xBarbara Stark, president and CEO of the Milagro Center, sits among some of the children involved in the center’s programs. Photo provided

By Amy Woods

The Milagro Center’s popular annual fundraiser will take on a holiday twist this year and include an urgent appeal to help the 150 at-risk children it serves.
The Ho Ho Holiday Hoedown on Dec. 10 will be a country-Western shindig combining cowboys with Christmas and line dancing with the lighting of the menorah. The event will direct proceeds to the center’s “Last C.A.L.L.” emergency campaign, designed to rally the “Community Against Learning Losses” stemming from the pandemic.
“We are specifically raising money to increase the academic support so that these kids can make up what they have lost and start to succeed in school again,” President and CEO Barbara Stark said. “COVID really put a monkey wrench into things, if you will.”
The emergency campaign comes on the heels of “The Nation’s Report Card” published in October by the National Center for Education Statistics, a branch of the U.S. Department of Education. The data shows that fourth- and eighth-graders fell behind in reading and had the largest-ever decline in math.
“The saddest part is that COVID has had a disproportionate impact on the country’s most vulnerable children and teens, like the students in our program,” Stark said, noting that poor families often do not have equipment such as laptops, much less high-speed internet service.
“The additional funding will go a long way in making sure each and every student gets the attention they need and deserve so that they have a fighting chance to achieve success in school and in life.”
Funds will enable the center to hire more tutors who can work with children in small groups or, better, in one-on-one settings.
“The fact is these kids have an increased chance of school failure because of their economic status,” Stark said. “Our goal is to help them graduate and pursue a career so they do not repeat the cycle of poverty.”
Guests are asked to bring gift cards to hang on the gift-card tree. The cards will be distributed to middle school and high school students. There will be a live band, a barbecue dinner, a silent auction, a raffle and more.
“It will be a fun night to enjoy,” Stark said.


If You Go
What: Milagro Center’s Ho Ho Holiday Hoedown
When: 7 to 10 p.m. Dec. 10
Where: Delray Beach Elks Lodge, 265 NE Fourth Ave.
Cost: $45
Information: 561-279-2970, ext. 107 or www.milagrocenter.org

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