Local couple donates for new B&G Club van

Instead of riding the old, unreliable bus, Boys & Girls Clubs of West Central Missouri members will soon receive a brand new 12-seat van through a donation by Gene and Francis Loveall. Members, from left, Stella Latimer, 9, Nevaeh Jenkins, 10, Aryan Blaylock, 11, and Matti Mergen, 10, stand beside the “old” bus at Skyline Elementary School Tuesday afternoon.

A week after the Boys & Girls Clubs of West Central Missouri began its “Take Pride in Our Ride Campaign” to raise funds for a new 12-passenger van, a local couple has come forward to pay the total amount needed for the vehicle.

Gene and Frances Loveall read Sedalia Democrat Columnist Bob Satnan’s recent column about the campaign and decided to pay for the new van in full. The club was projecting on raising $30,000 for the new van.

“We say that is completely covered,” Meghan Jeffreys, fundraising coordinator for the club, said.

The van will replace previous transportation, a 1989 short school bus that has so many miles on it the odometer doesn’t work.

The new van will provide reliable transportation for club members, taking them to educational activities, and back again, during the summer and throughout the school year. It is a appreciated by not only the club members but by the staff.

“This was something totally unexpected,” Vicki Hart, Sedalia Middle School site manager and bus driver, said Tuesday. “It means that the kids are going to get to go further away, more places, more choices as far as field trips.”

She has plans for the children to do service-oriented projects, but the old bus’s unreliability prevented this from happening.

“It’s real hard to do a service-oriented project when you don’t know how far that bus is going to make it,” she added.

As she talked about the donation, she got tears in her eyes.

“It’s about the coolest thing I’ve ever seen, since I’ve been here, for somebody to come out of nowhere,” she said. “It touches my heart.”

“When we told Vicki, she just stood there and got teary-eyed,” Jeffreys added.

“I can’t hardly talk about it, because I can’t even imagine,” Hart said.

She added that Satnan’s article came out in the newspaper Saturday and she received a phone message from the Lovealls that day. At first she thought someone was playing a prank, but then realized the sincerity of the couple. She said the Lovealls took the time to look up her landline phone number.

Jeffreys said the Lovealls have no children, but Mr. Loveall was one of 12 children and he grew up during the Great Depression.

“That’s why he says he feels close to kids, because he’s one of 12,” she added. “He’s been through the Great Depression and he’s served in World War II. He was telling us that he knows what it’s like to be without. He said that when he was a kid his parents didn’t have anything …”

She added that one Christmas, a community member where the family lived gave Loveall and his siblings each a bag of candy and an apple and orange.

“That was their Christmas,” Jeffreys said. “He said ‘I looked forward to Christmas every year after that, I know what it’s like. I want to be able help out and give back.’ They are as sweet as can be.”

Jeffreys added that no other donations have come in at present.

Last week, a fishing trip had to be canceled due to the bus breaking down. Hart said the children had brought their fishing poles and she had to break the news to them that the bus wasn’t working.

“He did have one stipulation,” Hart added about Loveall’s donation. “He wants to go fishing (with the children). We’re going to go fishing. We’re going to take the kids and we’re going to take them fishing.”

“It’s exciting,” Emily Jarrett, club communications coordinator, said. “I think it’s just exciting that our kids have reliable transportation.”

Because of the generosity of the Lovealls, the Boys & Girls Club has decided to keep up the fundraising effort and work toward purchasing a second 12-seat van.

“Our original intent was just one, but we thought well this might really spark some community members to make a gift as well,” Jarrett added. “We’ve just put the word out now that we are going to try and go for the second one. Any amount will help whether it’s $5 or $1,000.”

“The Lovealls have been awesome,” Jeffreys added. “They are the type of people that would say ‘why not help out?’”

To contribute to the “Take Pride In Our Ride” campaign, go to bgckids.com and click on the Donate Today button at the top right of the home page. Donors also can call the club at 826-8331.

Sedalia Democrat
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