BRANSON, Mo. – The Boys and Girls Club of the Ozarks celebrated 28 years of helping kids with its Thanks4giving Gala at the Branson Convention Center. 

The nonprofit helps kids in Branson, Crane, Forsyth and Reeds Spring. The gala raises money to help kids with things like academics and building character.

“Each day kids get a chance to come here after school,” CEO Stoney Hayes said. “Quickly we will organize them into their age groups, into their grade levels, and they’ll spend an hour doing their homework while parents are working.”

Hayes said this year’s gala had around 500 guests and over 50 sponsor tables. Every year, the Boys and Girls Club of the Ozarks has a guest speaker at the gala. This year’s guest speaker was John Quinones.

Quinones is the founder and host of the TV show ‘What Would You Do?’ and an ABC News Correspondent. Quinones was a member of a Boys and Girls Club in San Antonio, Texas. 

“Because of the Boys and Girls Clubs, I was able to get into this program that allowed me to go to college in the dream I had to become a TV reporter came true,” Quinones said. “When everyone else was telling us, you know, you’re not college material, or you speak with a funny accent, you know, I had a Mexican accent. They were the ones who said, no, you know, you really are.”

Quinones also spoke at the Boys and Girls Club Of America National Conference in May. He said being able to connect with kids on a local level is something special.

“We try to teach kids every day to have good character,” Hayes said. “A speaker like this not only speaks to the children and the families that we serve in the area, but it also speaks to our business folks. It’s right in line with what we believe in, right here in the Ozarks. God, family and flag.”

Boys and Girls Club of the Ozarks expects to raise $250,000 during the gala.