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Agency gets 1,800 in need supplied for school

September 04, 2007|By JANET HEIM

With public schools back in session, Anne Martin is breathing a sigh of relief.

Since mid-August, she and the almost 30 volunteers at Children in Need Inc. have distributed close to 1,800 prepacked bags of grade-appropriate school supplies and have outfitted hundreds of local children with new and gently used clothing.

Children in Need is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization founded in 1998 by the late Art Richards. He was moved to action when he discovered two local sisters could only go to school every other day, because they had to share the same dress.

That first year, 43 children were helped. This year, more than 1,800 will be served.

Martin has been involved with Children in Need since 2003, first as a volunteer and more recently as the first part-time paid director of the organization. This year, Martin said more than $63,000 in school supplies, shopping vouchers and toiletries were distributed for back-to-school.

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The services of Children in Need are available to students who were eligible for HeadStart or for free and reduced meals through the public schools.

On Aug. 16, Martin distributed 723 vouchers for $40 from Wal-Mart, which Children in Need paid for. These were provided for families who had come to the Children in Need warehouse in the past year.

Most of the vouchers were used to buy jeans, T-shirts, hoodies, socks and underwear, Martin said.

The vouchers could not be used to purchase school supplies, since Children in Need supplied those, or groceries.

"It's for the kids, to get them back-to-school, so they have a new outfit or two for school," Martin said.

For students who were eligible for Children in Need, but had not used the service last year, they could receive the prepacked school supplies. Martin said she bought school supplies by the truckload, at an average cost of $12.50 per student.

Throughout the year, eligible families can come to Children in Need once a month on Wednesday or Friday from 9 a.m. to noon to select from the inventory of personal care items and donated gently used clothing. They must first fill out a client application form to use the service.

Martin said the bulk of the funding for Children in Need comes from the Washington County Gaming Commission, the Sinnisen Foundation and Richard N. Funkhouser.

She said she's grateful to the accounting firm Albright, Crumbacker, Moul and Itell for donating their services to Children in Need and to Staples Distribution Center for donating some of the school supplies.

The Children in Need warehouse has a side entrance in the basement of the Martin Luther King Center at 131 W. North Ave. For more information about volunteering or donating to Children in Need, call 301-671-2014.

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