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Love INC strives to keep children warm this winter

By Jennifer Lysiak While many children wish for a bike, a toy, or electronics, there are even more children whose wish is as simple as warm winter clothing. Love In the Name of Christ (INC) in Gowanda helps to make that happen each year. Through the Warm the Children program, children in the community will not brace Western New York’s winter season alone.

Assisting low-income families with children from infant to teen, Love INC is seeking donations of warm outerwear clothing for all sizes. Items needed include hats, boots, scarves, jackets, mittens, and even snow pants. Individuals can also make monetary do- nations toward the program.

“A s we all know, Western New York gets pretty cold winters and being in Gowanda we notice a great need for children to be prepared for school,” said Gowanda Love In the Name of Christ Executive Director Melaina Thompson.

To be eligible, families must be referred to Warm the Children by a staff member at the school their child attends. Currently, the Gowanda program serves 11 schools including Gowanda Central School; Gowanda Head Start; Pine Va lley School, Cattaraugus- Little Valley School; Blossom Garden School; and League for the Handicapped in Springville, just to name a few.

Thompson said in 2016 the program assisted 70 children and in 2017 going into 2018, it has already surpassed that number.

“It’s very disheartening to see children who are not prepared for the winter weather, especially living here in Western New York as we know how brutal it can be,” added Thompson.

Warm the Children is a national program that was started in 1988 in Torrington, Conn., by Mack W. Stewart, publisher of a local newspaper. He was driving to work one cold November day and saw children waiting for the school bus; many of whom were inadequately clothed with only sweatshirts to shield them from the snow and cold wind. That is when Warm the Children was born.

Thompson said anyone who would like to donate clothing or make a monetary donation may come to the center, visit the website, mail a check, or donate money via the Facebook page. If you would like the donated money to go toward this specific program, please specify.

“We would like to purchase everything that children need, especially snow pants,” explained Thompson. “Snow pants are pretty expensive for some reason and so the more donations we get in, the more we are able to offer. And the more donations we get in, the more fruitful we can be for those in need.”

The Warm the Children program is 100 percent funded by the community.

“If it wasn’t for our community, this program would not run and our children would not have warm winter clothing, so we depend on donations to help serve our community,” said Thompson.

Gowanda Love INC is located at 15 Main St., in Gowanda. For more information about the program or other programs offered, call 532-3541 or visit Hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.

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