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Smith & Wesson fund new YMCA summer program

Date: 6/27/2013

By G. Michael Dobbs

SPRINGFIELD — A donation made by Smith & Wesson has underwritten a new summer program at the YMCA of Greater Springfield.

James Debney, president and CEO of the gun maker, presented a check for $10,000 on June 20 to pay for a summer basketball program for both girls and boys that will serve 500 children.

Debney said, "It was an easy decision [to make the donation]."

He explained the funding was an investment in the company's potential future employees.

Kirk Smith, president and CEO of YMCA of Greater Springfield, said, "We are grateful to Smith & Wesson for recognizing the importance of keeping kids engaged in healthy, safe activities, like our basketball program. Often times our most vulnerable kids have too much idle time, which can lead them down a troubled path. Our athletic programs — particularly our basketball program — are designed to give our youth an alternative to life on the street and an opportunity to do something positive with their free time. In addition to providing opportunities to stay fit, the program teaches the benefits of healthy competition, discipline and sportsmanship."

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno called Smith & Wesson "an outstanding corporate citizen."

There are still openings in the summer league. Interested parents of boys in third through eighth grades should contact Lamar Click at the Dunbar Y Family and Community center at 206-5501, while girls of the same age can be enrolled by contacting Wendell Mitchel at the Springfield YMCA at 206-5672.