The Warm the Children program is at 89 percent of its 2011 goal of $40,000.
To date, a total of $35,522 has been taken in from just over 500 contributors from the area. Shopping has been completed for an estimated 475 children from across the region.
Now it its 18th year, the annual Warm the Children campaign is run by employees of the West Central Tribune in Willmar, Minn., with assistance from Main Street Willmar, area social services agencies, school social workers and numerous volunteers.
The volunteers help by taking families shopping. Priority for the shopping is to provide warm coat, boots, snowpants, hat and gloves for the children, especially those elementary-age children who need warm clothing for recess and waiting for the bus. But, the program allows for the purchase of ANY type of clothing needs – everything from socks and underwear to warm winter pajamas, shoes and school clothing. Each child is allotted an estimated $80 for the purchase of clothing. The families meet a volunteer shopper at the designated store to complete the shopping. All purchases are then charged to the Warm the Children program and paid through the community donations collected throughout the season.
Families from throughout the Tribune’s coverage area – 7 counties – are served through the program. Referrals are received through regional social service agencies, schools, public health and other agencies in the communities served through the program.
Donations are solicited through house ads and newspaper articles – thus making Warm the Children a fitting program for newspaper organizations across the nation.
And, what makes the program somewhat unique is the West Central Tribune covers all administrative fees associated with the program. That means 100 percent of all donations received go back into the community to help the children.
Stores also provide discounts for the Warm the Children shopping, and Main Street Willmar has lent a hand by allowing the Warm the Children program to utilize a local partner for 501(c) 3 tax exempt status.
The program has grown immensely over the years, and helped provide new warm winter clothing for more than 6,420 children from more than 2,360 families.
Donations may be sent to: Warm the Children, West Central Tribune, PO Box 839, Willmar MN 56201.
Anyone interested in being a volunteer shopper in the future may contact Sharon or Donna at the Tribune at 320-235-1150.