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Our Opinion: A cause that keeps growing

January 10, 2002

The El Centro Police Athletic League continues to set a high standard in the Imperial Valley for providing services to the area's youths.

One way the El Centro PAL maintains quality programs is through fund-raising events like the one that will be staged Saturday.

"Fiesta de Locos" will be at the Ryerson Youth Center in El Centro. The money raised will go directly to PAL to help meet the needs of local youths — an important way to keep kids off the streets and in positive activities. PAL has become so strong in El Centro that the organization has been able to draw top comedic performers for its fund raisers, and "Fiesta de Locos" is no different.

Comedian and actor Paul Rodriguez, a key part in past "Laughs for PAL" fund-raising events, will be at Saturday's events. While he will not be there to perform, we are sure the mere fact that he is there will generate excitement and he might find his way to the stage, at least for a while.

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Rodriguez is a much-sought performer and that he takes the time to come to the Valley is a tribute to the strength of El Centro's PAL. (Although it probably also is connected to the fact Rodriguez spent part of his youth in the Imperial Valley, and was himself a poor kid who would have benefited from a PAL.)

An even larger event — "Laughs for PAL3" — will be staged in April. We have little doubt we will see some big-name performers, all of whom choose to come to the Valley to help with such a worthy cause.

Boxing cards have also drawn well for local PALs and we hope to see those continue.

The El Centro PAL and its director, Officer Eric Scoville, deserve a lot of credit for the programs provided to the city's youth. Through sporting activities and other types of programming, many youths are having the opportunity to enjoy activities they might otherwise miss.

And the El Centro PAL is far from alone in meeting such local needs. There are police athletic and activities leagues throughout the Valley and all are providing important services to our youth.

Kids need as much positive reinforcement as they can get, and they find such support at local PALs, where hardworking police officers and other staff spend countless hours on weekdays and weekends making sure the young people have activities in which they can take part.

It also is good for kids to know stars such as Rodriguez are willing to give of their time to entertain the people of the Valley for a cause that reaches thousands of young people.

We look forward to our local police youth programs growing to new levels. We think they have the capacity to do so and some of the youths who benefit from such programs will come back to themselves lead youth activities.

In that way an important cycle continues — one that prevents crime and improves lives.

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