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Tutoring, coaching, giving can all make a difference when confronting gang problem

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Posted: Saturday, April 21, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 1:25 pm, Wed Apr 25, 2012.

Maybe you can read to a student. Maybe your church can adopt a campus and provide tutoring or enrichment programs. Perhaps your service group can arrange for speakers for a campus.

Or maybe you can spare a donation to an organization that provides activities for a-risk students.

Lodi is full of people who care and are willing to step forward. In a recent poll, most readers said it will take a broad approach to confront the scourge of gangs in Lodi.

Police, parents and schools can't do it alone.

So perhaps you can consider one of the following opportunities to get involved and make a difference. (This is a partial list and we ask your help in expanding it in coming weeks. Please contact Editor Rich Hanner at 209-369-7035 or at richardh@lodinews.com with suggestions.)

Let a kid play a sport

Donations to the Boosters of Boys and Girls Sports are welcome. The BOBS provide scholarships to low-income families to offset the cost of registering for programs. People should note that their donation should go to low-income youth registration.

People can donate in person at the recreation office or by mail to Lodi BOBS, 125 N. Stockton St., Lodi, CA 95240.

How about donations for handball?

The city is investigating a one-day handball tournament/clinic later this year. Parks and Rec leaders are exploring a partnership with Lodi Unified School District and seek donations (possibly handled by an organization other than the city or LUSD) to offset those costs. The idea is still in the early stages, but the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department has a donation account and can accept gifts directly.

Can you help buy equipment?

Parks and Rec has put off buying sports equipment because of budget considerations. For instance, many of the basketballs are wearing smooth and need replacing. If someone is willing to donate to the Lodi BOBS and designate the donation for equipment purchases, the city would be appreciative. If they would like to purchase needed items instead, they can contact Grant Plath, Recreation Manager, at 209-333-6742.

Or support Boosters of Boys and Girls Sports in general

The the BOBS are selling tickets to a steak and oyster feed fundraiser April 28. For more information, contact Parks and Rec, 125 N. Stockton St., Lodi, CA 95240; 209-333-6742.

Help keep the police informed

Police Chief Mark Helms said the public can help by letting his officers know about gang-related crime. Residents can contact the Lodi Area Crime Stoppers at 209-369-CRIME (209-369-2746). All callers are anonymous, and they may earn a cash reward up to $1,000.

Support a new outreach program

The Lodi Police Department is starting a new emerging youth outreach program to prevent gang violence. Cash donations are welcome through the Lodi Police Foundation, Inc., at 215 W. Elm St., Lodi, CA 95240; or call 209-333-6727.

Can you teach young men to be responsible citizens?

The Boys and Girls Club has an immediate need for an adult male to teach a "Passport to Manhood" course — a curriculum developed by the national Boys & Girls Club. The courses teaches young men what it takes to be a responsible citizen. It covers good morals and helps them understand that decisions have consequences. It's aimed at boys ages 11 to 14.

The volunteer is needed to teach the class for one hour, twice a week; an ideal meeting time would be early evening (5 to 6 p.m.). If you can step up, please contact the Boys & Girls Club at Lodi Boys' & Girls' Club Inc.

The club also offers a range of afterschool programs and activites for youths in the community with donations gladly accepted: 275 Poplar St., Lodi, CA 95240; 209-334-2697.

Partner with a school

The Lodi-Tokay Rotary Club has "adopted" Lakewood School, providing money, resources and person-power for various programs there. The partnership was made possible through Partners in Education, a collaborative effort between the Lodi Unified School District and the Lodi Chamber of Commerce to connect schools with local businesses and organizations.

Think your business or service group might lend a hand? Contact co-chair Art Hand Jr., assistant superintendent of facilities and maintenance for Lodi Unified, at 209-331-7257; or Pat Patrick, chamber president, at 209-367-7840.

Or if you prefer, you may contact a school and discuss an idea with the principal directly.

At Millswood Middle School, for example, staff hope to provide an area for handball before school and at lunchtime. Principal Sheree Flemmer wants to offer lunchtime activites so students can interact in groups instead of just standing around. Short competitions, games, contests or activities are some examples. Parent or community volunteers to help with either project are appreciated.

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