Fort Lee soldiers spend Saturday nights keeping kids off the streets

FORT LEE, Va. (WRIC) — A group of Fort Lee soldiers have been spending their Saturday nights supporting a local YMCA youth program.

Since last year, members of the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club Fort Lee chapter have volunteered their time to the Petersburg YMCA in support of a nighttime basketball program.

The program has been running the first Saturday of each month since October.

According to the club president, the soldier’s participation has been positive.

“The members love it,” said Sgt. 1st Class Angel Alston. “They get excited about it. It takes them back to when they were growing up because a lot of our members grew up in similar neighborhoods and situations.”

The program, which runs from 7:45 p.m. to midnight, has attracted about 50-60 12-to-17 year-olds for each session, Alston said.

Sergeant Audie Murphy Club members have refereed games and acted as coaches and mentors. Alston said the club’s participation in the program bolsters efforts to provide Tri-Cities youth with a healthy, recreational alternative to negative activity.

“It’s an opportunity to reach out to those teens who may not have strong male and female role models and give them insights about life,” she said.

Alston said the next goal of the program is to offer military family members the opportunity to learn about another community demographic.

“I think it’s good to have a diverse mix of kids – those who have resources and those who don’t – so they can share experiences, learn about one another and reach out to each other,” she said.

The nighttime basketball program is a collaboration between Shaping Our Future, a local youth advocacy group, and the YMCA.

Although it concludes next month, Alston said the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club are looking forward to continuing its participation in the fall.

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