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Posted on Sun, Oct 23, 2011 : 12:22 p.m.

When donating to Warm the Children, you are part of a community-wide effort

By Ann Dwyer

Michigan’s battered economy may be slowly mending, but a lot of area residents continue to struggle to make ends meet because they have lost a job or have had to take a pay cut.

And for many people, it has meant reaching out for a helping hand for the first time in their lives to charities like Warm the Children, which provides warm clothes and shoes to kids in need.

Terry Bond-Manville, a social worker for Whitmore Lake Public Schools, not only helps find families in her area who can benefit from the Warm the Children program, but she has also volunteered to be a shopper. She knows first-hand just how grateful and humble the families are.

Last year, Bond-Manville said, she heard many families who found themselves with unexpected job losses say, “I’ve never had to do this. I’ve never had to take.”

100 percent of donations to Warm the Children go directly to buying warm clothes and shoes for kids in need because and United Bank & Trust absorb the overhead costs. United Bank and Trust provides support through collection and processing of donations while the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation , the campaign's non-profit partner, provides fiscal oversight.

But there is a much wider network of people and agencies that make Warm the Children happen. also relies on the help of social service agencies such as Community Action Network and Safe House to find families in the area that need help. They also help to match volunteer shoppers with those families.

Daicia Smith, the Family and Community Services Coordinator for Avalon Housing said of the program: “I can’t say enough, the sense of pride, how [WTC] helps increase the child’s self-esteem. To get the things they need is invaluable. It gives the kids a sense of security.”

A large part of Warm the Children involves the volunteer shoppers. These shoppers take the time out of their busy schedules to meet the families at the store to help meet their needs and find the best deals.

Whether these shoppers are part of social services, gathered by community organizations such as the Notre Dame Club of Ann Arbor and the Dexter Kiwanis or just volunteer on their own, they provide a vital link in helping us keep our local children warm.

Shoppers such as Anna Gebstadt, who two years ago helped 25 families in one season, put the heart behind Warm the Children. She always tucks away a little extra cash in case their $90 per child voucher goes a little short. Of course, this is not something shoppers are asked to do.

And while Gebstadt loves to help the children, she knows that “it’s a double-edged sword” because she knows in many ways, these families are hurting and having to go without.

Local businesses also help the Warm the Children campaign. Coffee roasters like Mountain Country and Bear Claw donate coffee, which we brew in the Community Space at 301 E. Liberty St., Ann Arbor. For a $1.25 donation, you can warm up with a hot cup of coffee while also helping a child get a warm coat.

A lot of good people are part of the Warm the Children campaign, but it all starts with you. The simple action of mailing a form or clicking on link starts the whole, wonderful chain.

Visit to find out more about the program, to donate online or to volunteer to be a shopper.

For your convenience, online donations are accepted using the online donation form on the Warm the Children webpage. However, credit card processing fees apply to donations made online.

If you want 100 percent of your donation to go to Warm the Children, download a form and mail it with a check or money order to Warm the Children c/o United Bank & Trust, P.O. Box 1127, Ann Arbor, MI 48106-1127. United Bank & Trust locations, in Washtenaw County, serve as a drop off center for donations.


Marti Bombyk

Sun, Oct 23, 2011 : 5:45 p.m.

Children are the most vulnerable population in these troubled times. The effects of scarcity on childhood not only pose immediate risks to children's physical, emotional, and cognitive well-being, they can lead to a lifetime of scars. Let's prove we are a caring community by showing support for this important campaign. All donations, from the modest to the extravagant, add up to a generous response from those who have more for those who have the least.