After over 40 years, Jefferson Community Center will continue its summer programs this year and provide local kids with fun, engaging activities free of charge.

During the summer months, the center can average up to 50 youth a day that come to the Central Northside community center for arts and sports activities, field trips and the daily free meal program.

Center director Kenneth Lindsey and the rest of the staff expect another fun-filled summer.

“Programs like this give youth a safe place to go, a place to meet other kids and a place to unwind after the school year,” he said.

The programs at the center include a summer meal program, Wednesday afternoon field trips, summertime sports and fitness, arts and crafts hour and a major summer field trip.

The summer meal program runs from June 18 to August 17. Free hot or cold meals will be offered. Lunchtime will start at noon and snack time will begin at 2 p.m.

Lindsey views the meal program as one of the most beneficial that the center offers.

“It helps kids who usually depend on meals at school during lunchtime,” he stated.

The Wednesday afternoon field trips will provide kids with an opportunity to explore what the Pittsburgh area has to offer. Some of the field trips being planned include outings to the Carnegie Science Center, a Pittsburgh Pirates game, a wave pool and more.

As part of the summertime sports and fitness program, kids can play basketball, dodge ball, volleyball, wiffle ball, go on nature walks and scavenger hunts and beat the heat on water balloon battle day.

Arts and crafts hour will be offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays from June 19 to August 9 starting at 1 p.m. Children will get hands on experience in creating bead jewelry, paper airplanes, hats, masks, bracelets and other crafts.

The highlight of the summer program is the major summer field trip. In past years, the center has organized a trip to Idlewild and Soak Zone. The destination of this year’s field trip is yet to be determined, but will be announced before the end of summer. A small fee will be charged for the trip, but the center will provide the meals, drinks and snacks and will cover most of the admission and transportation costs.

Lindsey recognizes the importance of these summer programs to the youth in the community and hopes that others in the Pittsburgh area do as well.

Though funding for the summer programs is in the annual City budget, the center is in need of funds for projects that are not fully covered.

The center accepts donations that would fund more field trips and purchase a more powerful computer system that would allow members of the community who cannot access the Internet to do so.

Those wishing to send a donation can do so by mailing it to Jefferson Community Center 605 Redknap Street Pittsburgh, PA 15212. Checks can be made payable to Jefferson Advisory Council.