Fundraising helps Boys and Girls Club after office fire

By Matt Phillips
NCCU Staff Writer
the Durham VOICE


Creative fundraising efforts for the John Avery Boys and Girls Club in Durham to replace sports equipment lost in a fire early last month are under way. On Oct. 20, the club held a Zumba fundraiser hosted at Grey Stone Baptist Church on Hillsborough Rd. in Durham.

On Sept. 9 the John Avery Boys and Girls Club administration building caught fire and 73 years of records and photos were destroyed.

Donna Newberne, a Durham resident and Zumba instructor, said all the funds raised would go to the club. Newberne called the club and offered to organize the fundraiser after hearing about the fire on the local news.

“We wanted to do something to replace the equipment that they lost,” said Newberne. “A lot of people have used Zumba to collect funds for organizations – because people love Zumba so much, usually they’ll come and donate.”

On the morning of Sept. 9 the club lost its administration building in the fire. The charred remains of the 3,000 square foot building include 73 years of historical records and various pieces of much needed sports equipment. Nobody was hurt in the fire.

The 511 Grant St. administration building, located directly across the street from the club’s activity center at 808 E. Pettigrew St., will be demolished and rebuilt to modern building code.

Elizabeth Biggerstaff, annual fund manager for the club, said the fire started on the second floor. Biggerstaff said the cause of the fire is still undetermined, and will most likely be concluded as such.

Durham resident Tonya Trice sends her son Malcolm Ellis, 10, to the club three days a week for touch football practice. She brought sugar-free treats to the Zumba fundraiser to support the cause. Trice said the club provides a valuable community service and is affordable, at $10 per child for the entire year.

“I think that club is essential to the community for boys of his age,” said Trice. “It keeps them occupied and out of the streets.”

Biggerstaff said funds gathered at the Zumba fundraiser and at future events will go toward immediate club needs, like sports equipment.

“We’re hoping that we’ll have the community support behind us to continue delivering the programs through a difficult time that has taken away a lot of our resources,” said Biggerstaff.

The club will most likely raise funds for a new administration building through a capital campaign starting in January. For now, the sports equipment is the priority.

Biggerstaff said the contents of the building were insured, but it is unclear how long it will take to receive insurance reimbursement. She said the club’s administration staff is working out of every available space at the activity center, including closets and classrooms.

I’m very thankful that we still have our main club so we can continue our services for the kids,” said Biggerstaff.

She said it seems like every day the staff remembers something additional lost to the fire.

11 a.m. to 3 p.m., on Saturday, Oct. 27, in Durham, Blend will host the Golden Belt Fall Festival to benefit the club. A donation of $5 is suggested. Planned activities include a hay bale maze and a costume contest.

The club will also host an Olympic Gala in honor of Dr. LeRoy T. Walker at 6 p.m. on Nov. 18. All proceeds will benefit the club.

Biggerstaff said the best way to donate to the club is in cash, but supply drives and other assistance is appreciated. Those who wish to donate or attend the gala should contact Biggerstaff directly at 919-688-7315 ext. 22 or through email at




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