Several Tucker County agencies are working with the Tucker Community Foundation this winter to purchase warm clothing for kids in need.
The Warm the Children Fund is a nationwide campaign that was started more than 25 years ago with the help of local newspapers. In recent years, the Parsons Advocate has published an advertisement for the fund and has directly accepted donations. The donations are transferred to the Tucker Community Foundation, which manages the money before it can be used for the purchase of childrens' clothing at Elkins Kmart.
"It's entirely donation-driven," said Robert Burns, executive director of the Tucker Community Foundation.
The collection of donations began before Thanksgiving and will continue to be accepted until around Christmas, Burns said.
At several points between the inception and completion of the campaign, county agencies meet to determine which families are eligible for inclusion in the program.
Burns said members of social service agencies, Family Resource Network, North Central Community Action, Department of Human Resources, Tucker County schools, St. George Clinic, Sheetz Family Christmas and local churches are all involved in the selection process.
Funds are available for the purchase of clothing for school-age children, but a family's situation can be a factor that determines eligibility.
Angie Davis, coordinator of the Family Resource Center in Tucker, said the agencies are involved with families and children who need assistance. For instance, teachers may recognize a child who arrives at school with no heavy coat, or local pastors may know of a family that is unable to afford winter outerwear.
"We choose (families) according to priority, those who need it the most," she said.
Davis said approximately 50 to 60 children have received assistance from Warm the Children this year, so far.
The process is ongoing, though, so Davis expects the number of children to rise.
"Funds are still coming in," she said.
Burns said Elkins Kmart works with Warm the Children by providing them with a discount on all clothing purchased through the program. The discount is equivalent to receiving $90 worth of goods with only $50 to spend.
Once children are selected for inclusion in the program, a Tucker Community Foundation member will escort the family to Kmart and purchase clothing with them. Burns said heavy coats, hats, gloves and other cold-weather items are the main focus, but extenuating circumstances may allow families to purchase basic clothing meant to be worn underneath heavier items.
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