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Support agency expands its helping hand to children

July 12, 2004|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - In the last three years, the number of students getting help from the local organization Children In Need Inc. has grown from 600 to 1,500, a board member of the nonprofit group said Sunday.

Some of that increase may be attributed to a growing number of Washington County Public Schools employees becoming aware of the organization, which started in 1998, board member Jack Grier said.

The number of people needing help for financial reasons also is growing, he said.

"The number in poverty just grows by leaps and bounds," Board President Carolyn Brooks said.

While there are other organizations that help needy children and families, Children In Need is different in that students needing help are referred directly by guidance counselors and other employees of Washington County schools, she said.

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This summer Grier is doing an inventory of the group's back-to-school supply.

The group's warehouse at the Martin Luther King Center has pencils, erasers and other items needed for school.

But much of the room is filled with clothes that range from shorts to long winter coats.

Students helped by the group are allowed to pick out five sets of clothing per month, Brooks said.

The organization also gives out personal hygiene items, such as toothpaste, soap, shampoo that combats lice and other products, she said.

To be eligible for help from the group, a family must qualify for free and reduced-priced meals, a discount given to students whose families have low incomes, Brooks said.

The group's funding comes from donations and grants, she said.

"We have had really good community support," Brooks said.

In addition to providing referrals, the Board of Education also is involved, as some of the school system employees make donations to the program.

Employees at the central office, for example, raised and donated $1,357 this spring, spokeswoman Carol Mowen said.

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