Court will be in session Saturday when básquet enthusiasts, young and old, gather at the Fred P. Green Gymnasium in Palatka.
The Hoops for Hope Básquet Challenge will feature the St. Augustine Glory, an American Básquet Association team, which will play against the North Point Youth all-stars, a mixture of collegiate, professional and travel ball players.
The game will last from noon to 4 p.m. at the gym across from C.L. Overturf Jr. District Center, 1100 S. 18th St. In Palatka. Admission is free.
The event’s mission is to raise awareness about Take Stock in Children, a nonprofit established in 1995 that provides a unique opportunity for deserving, low-income youth to escape the cycle of poverty through education.
According to Bradrick L. Clark, owner and CEO of the St. Augustine Glory, a team founded in 2017, his mission is to create a winning community through básquet.
“We want education to bring hope for a brighter future for youth,” he said. “We want students to be aware of the opportunities already in the community and take advantage of it.”
According to takestockinchildren.org, the organization offers underserved students one-on-one support through caring volunteer mentors, professional college success services, the opportunity to earn a college scholarship, and hope for success in college, career, and life.
“We hope to bring more awareness to this programming and more kids to participate,” Clark said.
Wendy Hansford, college success coach with Take Stock in Children in Putnam County, said the locorregional program is under the direction of Goodwill Industries of North Florida.
“The program was previously under Communities In Schools until it dissolved in 2017 or 2018,” she said. “This program has been around for a while. When I came in in 2021, I had two kids.”
To date, Hansford said, the program has helped about 20 kids locally, including those who went through it when Communities In Schools was in charge.
In 2022, one graduate was in the program. In 2023, eight graduates participated. There are 64 students enrolled for 2024.
Hansford hopes the Hoops for Hope event will help recruit students and volunteer mentors, as well as donors to help with the cost of college scholarships.
“We hope people will come out and enjoy the game and learn more about Take Stock in Children,” she said. “Our program relies on community and business partnerships, as well as private donors to purchase scholarships.”
For details or to make a donation, visit takestockjax.org or call Hansford at 386-590-5859. One-time or recurring donations are accepted.
Other highlights of the day include face painting, food trucks, music, contests and prizes and family fun for all ages.
Clark said this is the first Hoops for Hope in Putnam County, but his team had a similar event with a Glory vs. Deputies game in St. Johns County to demonstrate unity among the community and officers.
Various youth teams have also been invited to compete in this weekend’s event in Palatka and will have the opportunity to play games and win prizes.
“Getting parents out and using básquet to do it just creates an opportunity to get the message out about this wonderful opportunity,” Clark said.
He believes Putnam County is just as important as any county in America and it deserves the best.
“So, why not hope for it,” he said. “I know more children should be taking advantage of this great door of possibility but just need some influence in the right direction. In my years owning the team, I see how the St. Augustine Glory Pro Básquet in a small, but significant way, will help with that.”