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Program targets children in need

November 05, 1999|By MARLO BARNHART

Children in Need Inc. understands today's kids.

Members of the organization, formed about a year ago to provide youngsters with clothing, knows kids are as interested in being cool as keeping warm.

"We collect clothing and personal care items and then let the kids shop for themselves," said Hagerstown businessman Art Richards Jr. who started the organization last December. "It's important they get to choose what they want."

The clothing, some used and some new, comes from individual donations, corporate gifts and purchases with tax-deductible money gifts to the organization, Richards said.

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This weekend, the public will have three places to donate clothing for the organization: Martin's Food on Dual Highway, Lowe's and at the Long Meadow Shopping Center.

Money will also be accepted.

On Friday, The Bon Ton Foundation gave $5,000 to the organization plus six cartons of new children's clothing.

"I'm on the board of that foundation and this contribution is specifically for the children," said Jim Volk, general manager of The Bon Ton in the Valley Mall.

The concept is simple - eligible children are identified by the pupil personnel workers at the Washington County Board of Education.

Those children and their families are referred to the organization based on need those workers see when they make home visits.

"Then the child makes an appointment to shop for clothing and personal care items; it's not like charity, they can choose," said board member Carolyn Brooks, whose office is in the Martin Luther King Center alongside the storage repository provided by Washington County for Children in Need Inc. clothing and supplies.

Brooks, who is the HotSpot coordinator in Hagerstown, said she envisioned a similar effort in the early days of her tenure.

"There was this need for clothing, etc., that I identified right away and so we began gathering things," Brooks said. It quickly took off and became overwhelming.

So when Richards' group started up, Brooks worked toward collaboration. "It was an answer to my prayers," she said.

Richards said the organization has served more than 300 children since the beginning of 1999.

"We just spent $6,600 on children's clothes and other needs."

Sometimes money is used to buy eyeglasses, other times for school lunches or school supplies.

For more information on Children in Need Inc., call 301-739-5228 or 301-791-1010, ext. 121.

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