For the last few years, I have had the privilege of serving on the board of the Western Virginia Foundation for the Arts and Sciences (known to most as Center in the Square). This wonderful institution was created in the early 1980's to "anchor" downtown Roanoke's revitalization. What people don't often realize about Center in the Square is that it provides free rent and utilities to all of it's member organizations. One of our newer museums was opened almost 3 years ago and has been a major boost to the Roanoke area. That museum is the Don and Barbara Smith Children's Museum (Kids Square).
When we opened Kids Square, it was meant for all kids to have a place to come play, explore, learn, and escape from the outside world. With the shutdown of schools and our own museum due to Covid-19, our fantastic staff at Kids Square has tried to find as many ways as possible to give kids something constructive to do that could "transport" them away from the challenges that we are all facing. Many local children don't have the resources to have new toys and other things to play with, and with the massive loss of jobs recently, the number of kids who meet this description has increased. It is for that reason that myself and my partners in this initiative were so determined to make sure that any kid that wanted one of our Kids Square activity kits could get one. These activity kits include fun hands on learning via various activities curated by our amazing staff.
In addition, we have ensured that hundreds of other kids will have access to a special 4 week long pen pal program via Kids Square. This program will allow kids to engage with our team via a structured writing program that includes things such as make your own sidewalk chalk, Lego building challenges, decorating contests, and more! The best part is that the kids that complete these projects and bring them to the museum will get a free admission once COVID allows us to reopen the museum.
I would personally like to thank Eddie and Missy Smith, Cameron Johnson with Magic City Ford, Barry and Becky Wirt (Claytor Wirt Associates), and Alcova Mortgage for joining me in donating $1,000 each so that we can distribute hundreds of kits to kids in need. My grandparents would have been first in line to make sure that these kits got distributed, and I am thrilled that we have business owners in our area that can continue to think of others even when times may be tough for their own businesses. Now is the time, more than ever, to show kindness to your neighbors and fellow citizens. Our community is such a special place and we will get through this and emerge better on the other side because we have created such a special place.
If anyone else is interested in donating, in any amount, please reach out to me personally and I will make sure that we connect you to the appropriate place.