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Things are warming up in the Oak Park area. The Salvation Army officially opened the “Hot Spot” drop-in center at its Ray Robinson Oak Park Community Center on February 1.

Every Friday night, from 7 to 11 pm, the “Hot Spot” will provide teens, ages 13-19, an opportunity to utilize the multiple activities—like basketball, board games, art projects, video games and a computer lab—at the community center. Snacks are also given to the teenage attendees.

“People can come down and play instead of being on the streets,” said Oshe, a 17-year-old high school student who came to the opening night of the drop-in center to play basketball. “You always hear about kids getting shot, but this is a place where there’s some activities, it’s fun and (you’re) staying out of trouble.”

The Salvation Army has been working with Sacramento City Council members and Mayor Kevin Johnson’s Gang Prevention Task Force to develop this program.

“It was identified that Sacramento needs a safe place for the youth,” said Sonja Stires, Salvation Army program director for the Oak Park campus. “So we worked with focus groups, community partners and the youth themselves to identify the right time and day to open up this drop-in center.”

The Salvation Army is also looking for volunteers and food donations for the “Hot Spot” program. For more information, call (916) 469-4620.