Charity spotlight: Springfield Advocates for Youth

Gary Camp

Just like big-league baseball teams, children’s charities of the Ozarks employ staffs full of go-getters, and usually one emerges with so much energy for the job that it’s hard to ignore.

So when it comes to Springfield Advocates for Youth, you cannot miss Gary Camp. And that’s a great thing.

This summer – like so many summers before – Camp has been out all over the Ozarks trying to sell charity sweepstakes tickets to the Price Cutter Charity Championship presented by Dr Pepper, a part of the PGA Tour’s annual Web.com Tour stop in Springfield.

The tournament has gifted almost $14 million for children’s charities in its 27-year history, and now you can help again. SAY is out all across the Ozarks selling TLC Properties Charity Sweepstakes tickets, with the winners to receive either a brand new Ford F-150 truck or $10,000.

“It’s something to be proud of,” said Camp, named the winner of the Judy Weekley Volunteer of the Year Award in 2014. “When I sell a ticket, I tell them (its purpose), and they can’t believe it.”

About Springfield Advocates for Youth

Springfield Advocates for Youth

SAY-logo

The charity has been around for 27 years, with the past 32 years partnering with the PCCC. Bob Samuels is the chairman.

SAY works with the state Department of Youth Services and its court-appointed teens who are placed in homes in Springfield. From there, the non-profit takes the lead. Its mission is simple: To offer high-risk area youth an opportunity to expand their horizons through educational and recreational programming and to enhance their self-development.

SAY serves about 36 high-risk youth who reside in three state-operated group homes. Depending on the program, the youths remain there from three to six months.

“Our intention is to keep one boy and get him on the right path,” Camp said, although success stretches well beyond just one individual annually. “Our recidivism rate is the lowest in the nation.”

It’s no wonder Camp and his wife, Jerry, works tirelessly to sell PCCC tickets. The non-profit directs the money toward buying educational supplies, or helping teens earn a GED and buying their cap and gown for graduation. Beyond that, Springfield Advocates for Youth buys gas cards for families who live in poverty.

Additionally, the non-profit has helped steer teens toward a program at Ozarks Technical Community College in which the teens can learn valuable skills for the workforce.

All this while Springfield Advocates for Youth operates without a paid staff, meaning that any administrative costs go toward the mission.

Which is why you’ll see Camp always full of energy trying to sell the sweepstakes tickets.

In fact, he is among the recent winners of the Judy Weekley Volunteer of the Year Award, which is presented annually to a volunteer who exceeds all expectations and goes above and beyond what is asked of them. In addition to being SAY’s chief ticket seller, Gary serves as its Marshals Captain.

“The tournament has been a blessing,” Camp said. “It’s taken us from a real small point to a real good situation now. To me, there is no better fundraiser for children.”

UNITED WE STAND FOR KIDS

  • HELP SPRINGFIELD ADVOCATES FOR YOUTH: To assist Springfield Advocates for Youth, the best way to help is through the PCCC. Call 417-837-3400.