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Posted on: December 12, 2013

Westmoreland Children’s Bureau Continues Coats and Toys for Kids Tradition

Saint Vincent Education Students Wrap Presents for Children's Bureau 7 Dec 13

Westmoreland Children’s Bureau Continues Coats and Toys for Kids Tradition
Community turns out to make 1200+ kids' holidays bright

Release: 12 December 2013
Contact: Shara Saveikis
Children’s Bureau, Department of Human Services, Westmoreland County

(Greensburg, PA)—It’s cold outside, but a lot of needy kids in Westmoreland County are going to stay warm this holiday season, thanks to some creative and dedicated members of our community. Since October, Westmoreland County Children’s Bureau Advisory Board members have dedicated countless hours and dollars to ensure happy holidays for about 1200 youth involved with the Bureau.

Children’s Bureau Advisory Board Treasurer Marcy L. Zajdel says of the effort, “As a mom, I love the opportunity to work with my fellow board members and staff at the bureau to see that each child has something under the tree…or a warm coat…and offers a great example to my own two children of how fortunate they are to have these things.”

In October, the Board partnered with the Children First Fund of the Community Foundation of Westmoreland and Excela Health to host their third annual Wine Chocolate Coats & Boots event in the soaring, historic lobby of the First Commonwealth Bank in Greensburg. Event chairs Carol Zera and John Kline welcomed guests to a festive evening featuring wine tastings, auction items, and delicacies from Greensburg’s The Chocolate Shoppe. $11,880 was raised to purchase coats, boots, and toys for needy children who are victims of abuse or neglect. Music for the glittering evening attended by 135 was provided by Judge Chris Feliciani and friends.

Now, with the holidays fast approaching, Advisory Board members are working feverishly with Michelle Brant, Children’s Bureau Supervisor, and caseworkers, to coordinate donations of clothing and toys to fulfill the wish lists of kids under the Bureau’s care. Brant, who has coordinated the gifting program for the last 8 years, says, “There’s a Christmas surprise around here every day—people show up at our office with a toy or special gift without our even asking. Every effort and every donation is appreciated—from individuals who hand knit scarves or hats, to groups like E.C. Cruisers—one of the organizations that have donated so much and so consistently for many years…it takes every group and every individual to make this program work.”

Support is coming from business, church, civic and community groups, like Latrobe Hogs motorcycle group, and Kmart of Latrobe. For over 25 years Seton Hill University has been a quiet but very generous donor, and Saint Vincent College sent 50 education students to shop and wrap for the first time this year. The ingenuity of those supporting this effort is far-ranging—in just one example, county courthouse maintenance staff have turned employees’ and visitors’ recycled cans into cash for the project for the past several years.

In 2012 171 coats were donated along with gifts for 1090 children, and 2013 is on pace for a similar number. Organizers are proud to say that in the approximately 30 years they’ve fulfilled wish lists, no child has gone without something under the tree.

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The mission of the Westmoreland County Children’s Bureau is to protect children from abuse and neglect, preserve families wherever possible and ensure that every child under our care and supervision has a safe, stable and permanent home in which to grow. For more information about Westmoreland County Human Services and the Children’s Bureau, log on to http://www.co.westmoreland.pa.us and click on Human Services. Westmoreland County Board of Commissioners appoints members of the Children’s Bureau Citizens’ Advisory Board, which provides financial assistance with Adoption Day, Child Abuse Awareness Month (April), Foster Care Month (May), Staff Appreciation Day, and Winter Coats and Secret Santa.

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