Donations still needed for annual Warm the Children campaign

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BENNINGTON >> Donations are still being sought to purchase winter clothing for 50 children in the Bennington area as part of the annual Warm the Children campaign.

About 250 children were approved to receive a $100 shopping trip at JC Penney, although only enough money has been raised for 200 children as of this week, according to organizer Lisa Shea.

Shea said volunteers have already shopped for 200 children who qualified and she has plenty of volunteers to shop for the additional children.

"But the donations just didn't come in," Shea said on Tuesday.

Donations come in year-round, Shea said, with campaign efforts really kicking into gear in the fall. In past years, shopping is often completed by late November and any money donated after that is set aside for the next year's campaign. But Shea said not enough money was donated this fall and speculated that the unseasonably warm temperatures was the reason why.

"If it's warm, people don't really think about the need to contribute," she said. "The cold weather gets the donations going. And it seems as we get closer to the holidays, people choose to give more."

Since 1994, the annual Warm the Children Campaign has raised funds to purchase winter weather clothing for children in need who are between the ages of 4 and 14. The campaign is organized by the Bennington Banner, the Hanson-Walbridge Funeral Home and the American Red Cross. Partners include JC Penney, which offers a 25 percent discount to shoppers who qualified for aid, and numerous donors who raise money all year round.

There were about 400 applications reviewed this year, Shea said. Last year, about 200 applications were reviewed.

"Normally we help between 250 and 350 children," Shea said.

Shea coordinates the volunteer shoppers, who are responsible for arranging a time to meet with families at JC Penney to take them shopping.

Many children pick out new winter jackets, Shea said. Or if they have a jacket that already fits, they may opt for pants, undershirts, underwear, and even socks.

There's a thorough vetting process to ensure only the families with the highest needs receive help, she said. There's no overhead or administrative costs for the campaign and 100 percent of all donations go towards purchasing clothes for children.

Donations can be mailed to or dropped off at the Banner offices at 425 Main St., Bennington, Vt., 05201, or to Lisa Shea at Hanson-Walbridge, 413 Main St., Bennington. All checks should be made payable to Warm the Children.

For more information or to arrange a donation pick-up, call Shea at Hanson-Walbridge at 802-442-4329.

Contact Edward Damon at 413-770-6979


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