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Nonprofit group to help children in need

December 04, 1998|By SCOTT BUTKI

A nonprofit organization, Children In Need Inc., is being formed to help needy children in Washington County.

The group has started accepting donations, but will not hold its first official meeting until January, said Art Richards of Hagerstown, president of the organization.

Richards, president of Richards World Travel, has spearheaded the creation of the group.

The group will take advice from pupil personnel workers with the Washington County Board of Education on which families need money and how much, he said. The group will investigate all claims, he added.

Some children are harassed and insulted by other students at school for not having money for good clothes or food, he said.

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"How do we expect that child to be educated or even want to learn?" he said.

While many residents are quick to criticize educators, many of them are trying hard to solve problems that they can not fix alone, he said.

As a member of the Rotary of Long Meadow, Richards said he was approached about two years ago by a pupil personnel worker who was trying to collect enough money to provide clothing for about 180 students. The Rotary contributed about $1,500, he said.

Last year, the organization was approached again and were told that about 280 students needed money for clothes, he said. They donated about $2,000.

Last month he heard about a local mother who was trying to raise three children, one of whom had cancer and needed a bone marrow transplant. The children did not qualify for the school free lunch programs, because their mother was working two jobs, he said.

Richards said some school workers ask their friends and families for contributions to try to help needy families, he said.

Stories like that made him decide to take action.

"How can we raise money to take care of this?" he asked. He decided the answer was to create a nonprofit organization.

Local attorneys donated their time to deal with the paperwork involved in getting nonprofit status.

"We have got a real potential to turn this thing around," Richards said.

The group can provide families with support and money, which will help not only the children and the families but also educators, he said.

Publicity about the group has prompted people to come forward and offer help, he said.

"I'm really touched by the people in this community. They do care a lot. They reach out when there's a need," he said.

The group has an "Adopt A Family" program through which residents or companies adopt a family and help provide them with items, from toiletries to tree trimmings, for Christmas.

The organization has set up a bank account to accept contributions. Donations can be made to the Children In Need Inc. account at any branch of Hagerstown Trust Co.

The group is accepting donations of good used clothing and toys at Richards' office at 1201 Potomac Ave.

For more information, call Richards at 301-791-1010.

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