ROANOKE, Va. – Kids are splashing into summer, but not every child in the Roanoke Valley has the right gear for a fun and safe summer.
About 125 kids attend the Boys & Girls Club in Roanoke in the summer. Kids go to the pool every week, but a lot of families can't afford new swimsuits, towels or sunscreen, especially when they have multiple children.
"We have some families that have three, four, five kids in here," said Tiffany Muse, the club's director. "(They can't afford) having to give out, buy five new swimsuits because the kids grow so fast."
Families at the West End Center for Youth face the same challenges.
"It'd make the month really hard to get through," said Joy Parrish, the executive director of the center.
Dayna Harvey owns Can Am Aquatics Learn to Swim School. When she heard about the need, she dove in to help.
"It's not right that kids don't have what they need for the summer," Harvey said.
She's collecting 250 new swimsuits, towels and bottles of sunscreen for every kid in both programs so that they can feel comfortable and be safe.
Some children swim in cutoff shorts and cotton shirts, which can weigh down kids in the water.
"When you already have kids that maybe aren't super strong swimmers in clothes that are weighted, not a light-weight swimsuit, it just makes it more difficult to swim," Harvey said.
More than 250 towels have already been collected. Harvey still needs sunscreen and swimsuits for boys and girls in all different sizes.
"It's just really an important thing, I think, that we give back to the community that we live in," Harvey said.
Muse and Parrish said they're grateful people like Harvey and those who have donated want to make a splash in the community.
"Sometimes we take things for granted that, you know, just having a swimsuit to swim in is something that all kids should need to have," Muse said. "The fact that the community's helping us do that, you know, that makes me feel really good, and I know it has to make the kids feel really good."
If you'd like to donate, check out the Can Am Aquatics Learn to Swim School Facebook page for an updated list of swimsuit sizes still needed. Girls' bathing suits need to be one-pieces, and all bathing suits need to be new.
To find out how and where to drop off donations, contact Harvey by email: at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone: at 540-855-8409.