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Warm the Children program enters final year

WILLMAR -- For the past 22 years, the Warm the Children program administered by the West Central Tribune has helped to provide warm winter clothing to thousands of children across the region. This year's program, however, will be the last.

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WILLMAR - For the past 22 years, the Warm the Children program administered by the West Central Tribune has helped to provide warm winter clothing to thousands of children across the region. This year's program, however, will be the last.

Due to a number of changes over recent years, program organizers have discussed and agonized over these factors, wondering how long the program could continue as it has been. This year, a number of factors entered into the equation, making it clear this would be the final year.

Some of these factors have to do with retail businesses and corporate decisions making it more difficult to charge purchases at some locations, others have to do with staffing and changes at some of the social services agencies, schools and other referral sources, and staffing changes at the West Central Tribune.

That being said, we will continue to operate this year, as we have in the past. The one omission will be the absence of advertisements and coupons soliciting funds from the community and our donors as we have in the past.

We are still accepting donations from those who have already and would still like to contribute, but we are not seeking the large sum of the past. To those already having sent in a donation, we thank you.

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All donations - 100 percent - go to help the children. And it is for that reason that we need to be sure we can spend all the funds received this year, without carrying dollars over to the next year's program as we have at times in the past.

Over the years, the Warm the Children program, which began locally in 1994, has taken in nearly $700,000 and helped provide warm winter clothing for more than 8,500 children from more than 3,200 families across the region.

Last year alone, the program assisted 505 children from 173 families and took in more than $36,000.

The primary goal of the program has always been, and continues to be, to provide warm winter outerwear and other clothing items for children up to age 18 and in school. The focus was on school-age children who are often outside for recess and/or at the bus stop. But we helped entire families of children, so as not to leave some children out.

The program is administered through the West Central Tribune, in partnership with Main Street Willmar for tax-exempt status, with assistance from area social service agencies and schools making referrals. The families are then taken shopping in order to purchase warm winter clothing for the children. Each child is allowed up to an estimated $80 in purchases.

All donations are tax-deductible.

Thank you to all who have contributed in any way and been a part of making the Warm the Children program a huge success over the years. Those who still wish to donate many do so at: Warm the Children, PO Box 839, Willmar MN 56201 or at 2208 W. Trott Avenue in Willmar.

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