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Selman has giving spirit

December 27, 2001

Selman has giving spirit



Editor's note: This is the last in a series of stories running on the 12 days before Christmas to recognize individuals and groups who make the holidays and every day better for others.

By STACEY DANZUSO
chbbureau@innernet.net


For some local families, Christmas came early this year with a shopping trip sponsored by the Exchange Club of Chambersburg, Pa.

Many don't qualify for other support.

"For a lot of these families, this was their Christmas," said Barb Selman of Chambersburg, who coordinated the Christmas shopping event.

That's why she and 50 other Exchange Club members worked so hard to make it as special as possible for the 61 Franklin County children who each shopped Dec. 8 for $100 worth of new clothes and shoes at the Chambersburg Kmart.

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Most referrals to the club come from the organization it supports, the ESCAPE Parent/Child Center, which aims to teach struggling families better parenting skills and to prevent child abuse.

"Parenting is the most important job you will ever have. It is nice someone is there to offer help," Selman said.

It's often the basics - an alarm clock or bedsheets - families need before they can start to get back on their feet, she said.

That's where the Exchange Club steps in every Christmas, providing one family gift and the shopping trip.

Each year, shopping starts at 8:30 a.m. and it's a race to check out before the pizza party begins.

Exchange Club members first meet with the family at its home and find out what $20 household gift is most needed. They covertly try to find out what toy the children want to ensure that Santa pulls it out of his sack at the pizza party.

In previous home visits, Selman recalls some kids saying they have a hard time getting up in the morning for school. When she asked why, she found out their alarm clocks were broken.

On the shopping day, the Exchange Club member sticks with that same family.

"It does require time, but everyone goes away with a great feeling," Selman said.

The new clothes and shoes help the kids feel good about themselves.

"We want them to feel special," she said.

The Exchange Club is a service organization whose mission is to support the Parent/Child Center, which also offers classes on dealing with children with attention deficit or hyperactivity disorders, or relating to teens.

"Families are trying to improve how they deal with children. Raising children is becoming more and more difficult," Selman said.

"We're such a mobile society. We're not living next to grandma and grandpa," she said. "There are single families, kids with special needs, working parents."

Selman got involved with the Exchange Club nine years ago.

"My life has been so blessed. I have family, a good job and a nice home. It is important to me to give to the community," she said.

The shopping trip is funded with the Exchange Club's budget, which raises money through fund-raisers like the Jan. 19 Perfect 10 Dance at the Orchards in Chambersburg. To sign up, call 1-717-264-4601.

For more information on ESCAPE Parent/Child Center services, call 1-717-263-7707.

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