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Donations aid Youth in Need program

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By Phyllis McLaughlin

One way to find out how a bad economy is affecting a community is through programs that help families in need.

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Trimble County, it seems, is still facing hard times, as 215 local families signed up for this year’s Youth in Need Holiday Assistance Program, operated by the county’s Family Resources and Youth Services Center. That’s a 43 percent increase over the 150 families aided by the program last year.

Hall credits all her volunteers and the donors who help the program obtain food, clothing and Christmas presents for the children this year. She said Bedford Bank used funds raised by the Bedford Bash to buy all the fresh fruit that was included with food baskets.

All other food items were collected by students in Trimble County schools during food drives held earlier this month, Hall said, adding that any leftover donations will be given to other food banks in the county.

Additionally, the Trimble County High School FFA collected and wrapped presents for the program. Dollar General held a toy drive, providing a drop box for customers who bought and donated new toys for the program, and Subway Sub Shop also donated bags filled with toys. Many individuals also donated items for specific families.

Hall said each family that signed up was given a number, which was used to identify them to organizers but keep them anonymous to others. Each young person had a card filled out with his or her age, clothing sizes and some of their interests, along with their family ID number. Those cards were distributed to churches throughout the county, where individuals would “adopt” a child and his or her family and buy the items listed on the cards.

“I don’t think there’s a church in this community that doesn’t participate” in this program, Hall said.

Hall said reading what the kids ask for each year can be heartbreaking. While there are a few who will ask for big-ticket items, such as a PlayStation or Wii, many simply ask for necessities that the rest of us may take for granted. For example, some of the kids asked for sheets and pillowcases for their beds.

One simply wanted to be warm, because his family was unable to heat their home.

“It’s the practical things kids ask for that really touch your heart,” she said.

Several years ago, Hall added a provision for parents who sign up their children for the program, requiring them to complete 10 activities with their children throughout the year. Activities can range from reading to a child or taking them to a library, or going to the school to talk with their child’s teacher. The idea is to get them more involved with their child’s education.

Hall said there are still a few parents who balk at the assignment, but each year more and more people are fulfilling the requirement.

On Friday morning, Denise Hall and staffers Marla Fetterhoff, Barbara Dukes and Michele Callis worked with volunteers, including Kevin and Corey Bailey, to distribute the goods to parents who came to Bedford Elementary School to pick up their food and gifts.