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Cash for Kids provides gifts for less fortunate

Campaign's goal for this year is to raise $15,000

Campaign's goal for this year is to raise $15,000

October 13, 2009|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- Berkeley County students and business leaders are joining an annual fundraising effort to raise money -- one penny at a time -- to provide Christmas gifts to less fortunate children.

"If everybody could do a little bit, that's all it takes to make this work," said M. Rebecca "Becky" Linton of City National Bank in Martinsburg.

The bank, which has teamed up with United Way of the Eastern Panhandle and Prettyman Broadcasting Corp., announced on Monday that the fourth Christmas Cash for Kids campaign has a goal of raising $15,000, about $2,000 more than last year.

Founded in December 2006, the program served 365 children last year, up from 256 in 2007, according to organizers. They expect the need will be even greater this year because of the depressed economy.

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The campaign serves children up to age 16. Volunteers try to provide each eligible child with clothing and at least one gift.

"I have 53 percent more Berkeley County residents using DHHR services today than I did this time last year," said Kathy Bradley, community services manager for West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources in the Eastern Panhandle.

Neighboring Jefferson and Morgan counties are not much better off. The agency has seen increases in public assistance of 40 to 45 percent in those two counties, Bradley said.

The agency processed about $1.6 million in food benefits for Berkeley County residents last month for 12,000 to 13,000 people, Bradley said.

"The people that we're seeing -- these are people that never needed any help (before)," Bradley said. Many are new to Medicaid and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) program rolls, she added.

Anticipating even more requests for help this year, the Christmas Cash for Kids campaign was expanded to encourage Berkeley County elementary and middle school students to contribute by bringing pennies to school and dropping them off in water jugs from Oct. 15 to Nov. 15.

A special party will be held to recognize the most creatively decorated penny container, according to organizers.

The business community also is being encouraged to participate.

Anyone who wants a penny collection jar or to volunteer may contact Linton at 304-264-4502.

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