EDMOND — Youths who live at Boys Ranch Town love to offer their annual Living Christmas Pageant for the community.
Brent Thackerson, administrator for the faith-based boys home, said the boys like to see all the people who come to the drive-through pageant, continuing tonight and Sunday, because it makes them feel as if people care about them.
But Thackerson would feel better if Boys Ranch Town were more financially secure.
The home at 5100 SE 33 is in dire straits, the worst since its inception, he said.
Currently, Boys Ranch Town is on the brink of shutting down one of its five cottages. The cottage houses about eight of the 44 children who consider the ranch town their home. Thackerson said it costs about $200,000 to operate one of the cottages for a year, including food, medical expenses, staff house parents and other needs.
He said he recently requested milk for the home’s youths when he applied for a grant from the Edmond Women’s Club.
"We’re just trying to feed the kids and meet their needs,” Thackerson said. "It’s the situation we’re in.”
Economic woes trickle down
Thackerson attributes the dwindling coffers to the troubled economy and a dip in donations.
Steve Childers is communications director for Baptist Homes for Children, the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma affiliate that runs Boys Ranch Town. Childers said that like most charities, Baptist Homes for Children is experiencing a 10 percent decrease in donations.
He said in addition to the decreased donations from people and churches, the organization expects to operate on a decreased budget next year as compared to the current year. He said a portion of the organization’s budget comes from endowment funds administered by the Oklahoma Baptist Foundation. He said $3.3 million in endowment funds helped shore up this year’s budget, but only $1.5 million in endowment funds is expected next year.
Childers, 59, said a hiring freeze is in effect to deal with the financial constraints.
"We have cut everything that’s possible to cut. We don’t want to cut services to children,” he said.