Springfield's Boys & Girls Club received an extra reason to be thankful last week when comic Kevin Hart — along with Sam's Club and the entertainment company Laugh Out Loud — announced a $100,000 donation.
The money will allow the Springfield nonprofit to provide gifts to children involved in the program as well as support the mission of the program overall.
Brandy Harris, chief executive officer of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Springfield, said the gift means each of the more than 1,000 children enrolled will benefit directly.
"Sometimes the only holiday...gift that some of our kids get is when they're at the club or at school," she said. "I'm just so thankful for the opportunity. We get to make sure every single kid at our club has a memorable holiday this year."
Harris said Hart talked to club members during a Zoom call last week. She captured a photo of one child who watched, eyes and mouth wide open.
"It was so special because our kids like know Kevin Hart. It is something they will never forget, seeing him on Zoom, and interacting with him," she said. "It was amazing."
Harris said each holiday season, the club works to make Christmas special for the kids. This year, it will be extra special.
"This time, there are no limitations on what we can do," she said. "Every single kid is going to have a very special holiday. And, it's overwhelming."
In a news release Monday, the Arkansas-based Sam's Club announced that a total of five organizations, including the one in Springfield, will each receive $100,000.
The organizations include:
Special Needs Network of Los Angeles, Calif.
Houston Child Advocates of Houston, Texas
Boys & Girls Club of Springfield
Positive Tomorrows of Oklahoma City, Okla.
Boys & Girls Club of Central Florida in Orlando
“One of the best things you can do for yourself is believe in other people,” said Hart, in the news release.
“I’ve always had people in my life that believed in me, and I believe in the power of passing that onto others. The donations we made went to organizations that believe in the future of kids and their families. I’m proud we were able to work together to make a big impact.”
Hart spoke about giving back — and showed video of his surprise announcements last week — during an interview with Gayle King early Monday on CBS Mornings.
Last week, Hart delivered the news live, but virtually, to the organizations gathered for what they thought was just a holiday party organized by Sam's Club.
Hart delivered news of the monetary donation and individual gifts on the calls, and Sam’s Club associates were on hand to deliver the items to recipients in person.
There is unrestricted funds built into each donation so the receiving group can use part of the money to meet other needs.
Harris said the extra funds will go toward meeting "the most pressing need for our kids right now," which may vary by club.
"I'm about to be three years on this job but I still don't know how to react to stuff like that. I tried to (act) normal," she said of the large donation. "But it was special."
Also, Hart was in person to surprise 10 families from the Special Needs Network at a Sam’s Club in Oxnard, California, with a holiday shopping spree at Sam’s Club.
“These groups have an incredible impact on the communities and families they serve,” said Tony Rogers, senior vice president and chief member officer, Sam’s Club, in the release.
"It’s been an honor for us to work together with Kevin and Laugh Out Loud to recognize their work with gifts that allow them to further their missions.”
Claudette Riley is the education reporter for the News-Leader. Email news tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared on Springfield News-Leader: Kevin Hart, Sam's Club donate $100K to Springfield's Boys & Girls Club