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Posted on Sun, Nov 18, 2012 : 5:50 a.m.

Warm the Children brings warm clothes and dignity to children in need this season

By Angela Smith

Warm the Children is a program that would not succeed without the support of our community. Individuals, groups, and corporations help to organize drives, donate money, and act as volunteers.

The Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation has been WTC’s local nonprofit sponsor of's Warm the Children program for several years. The foundation’s primary focus is on building permanent endowments for community efforts like the Ann Arbor Skate Park and the Rutherford Pool.

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AAACF holds the nonprofit status the government requires for a charitable cause like this Warm the Children. The foundation’s board approved its position as sponsor for Warm the Children in 2008 for the 2009 season. The partnership has continued since then, and this year the program will serve 3,000 children.

“We’re really meeting a need,” President and CEO Cheryl Elliott said. Elliott says the partnership has worked well, and that it is one of few special temporary fund projects that the AAACF supports.

“It’s a great partnership, and the program does a great job. It’s a quality experience for volunteers, and recipients, both.”

But Elliott feels the most powerful aspect of the program is the dignity it gives to the families it serves.

Warm the Children offers families an opportunity to shop with a volunteer purchaser who meets them at a local Target Store. A $90 purchase order is used for each qualifying family member. School age children can pick out new boots, pajamas, coats, jeans, or whatever warm clothing they need for the cold months to come.

“These families and these kids deserve this,” Elliott said. “A lot of these families have used or older items, and there is nothing wrong with any child getting something new that fits right. (Warm the Children) tells them they are respected and they are worthy."

If you are able to help there are a number of options for doing so:

Donate. If you would like to contribute to Warm the Children, you can use the coupon or link accompanying this story, or call the Warm the Children hotline at 734-623-2525. Donations are also accepted at any United Bank and Trust branch in Washtenaw County.

Volunteer. Members of the community can give in a way that feels meaningful, even if they cannot afford to support financially this year. Warm the Children works with volunteers who offer their time as personal shoppers to shop with the recipient families. Each year, receives many notes and phone calls sharing stories of gratitude from recipients and volunteer shoppers alike. Sharing in the joy of the children and their parents has become a cherished winter tradition for many of the volunteers who help the families with their purchases. If you have an hour or two to help out with this effort, contact Warm the Children via the Hotline, website, or coupon listing below.

Spread the word. Do you know a family that could benefit from this program? Participation is based on need, and referrals happen through school and community social workers. Do you know of a group that is looking for a special way to give back to the community this season? Suggest they create an event to raise funds for Warm the Children.

Angela Smith is a freelance writer for who is also a volunteer shopper for Warm the Children. She's writing about it weekly during this holiday season.



Sun, Nov 18, 2012 : 3:11 p.m.

It would be nice if this program informed the public which programs and social workers took referrals. Many readers know of at least one family who really would benefit from Warm the Children's help.

Angela Smith

Mon, Nov 19, 2012 : 12:35 p.m.

Hi missmisery, The bulk of referrals come through the schools, and the social workers and counselors oversee that angle. Other community-based social workers also make referrals. Thanks for getting involved! If you are looking to help connect a family in need, you can start by calling the hotline number at 734-623-2525.