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Thirteen youngsters get a ‘bright’ start to school

Middlesex YMCA school age program director Jessica Shearin Wilson (right) and volunteer Leslie Payton help youngsters back-to-school shop at the Wal-Mart in Kilmarnock.
Like the hundreds of other Middlesex County youth, 13 school-aged youngsters went back-to-school shopping to prepare for the upcoming academic year. There was one catch however. They shopped for free as part of the 3rd Annual Middlesex Family YMCA Bright Beginnings outreach program. 

“This program was designed with the purpose to help under-served children in our community start off on the right foot,” said Buzz Lambert, branch executive of the Middlesex Family YMCA. “Bright Beginnings helps provide new clothes and school supplies to children in our community who are in need. The goal of this program is to help children have a great start in school by giving them confidence and the tools they need to learn.”

The 13 youth were paired with volunteers that served as their shopping partners when they arrived at the Kilmarnock Wal-Mart. Returning shoppers included: Carolyn Henkel, Ken and Carolyn Schmalenberger, Joe Klotz, Cheryl Holleran, Leslie Payton, Jerry and Lynne McMurtrie, D.A. Belcher and Jessica Wilson. First-time shoppers included: Lynne Richardson, Nicolle Morgan, Kendall McNamee and Mary Lib Hoinkes. 

Upon arrival, the teams of two headed to their respective areas to purchase up to $100 worth of clothing. Once the teams completed their shopping lists, they headed back to the bus to enjoy lunch provided by Betty Miller and Jack Townsell of EVB. The children and volunteers then returned to the YMCA, wished each other well, and departed with the excitement of starting the school year off right.

The average cost to shop for one child is $150, which includes clothes and school supplies. Lambert and his staff asked YMCA members, civic organizations and businesses for monetary donations to cover the $2,000 in expenses. Financial sponsors included: Lower United Methodist Church, Fred and Linda Edwards, Andy and Nicolle Morgan, Cathy Putnick, Charles and Sally Gayle Revere, Chuck and Jean Ylonen, the Kiwanis Club of Middlesex, the Lions Club of Middlesex, EVB, Jerry and Lynne McMurtrie, Gary and Lynne Richardson, Keith and Shelley Hodges, Bradley and Alice Burgess, Missy Morris, and Ralph and Carol Lovelace. Additional supporters of school supplies included Ben and Faye Parson.

“I would like to thank the employees of the Kilmarnock Wal-Mart, who were delighted to cater to our needs,” said Lambert. “Further, after telling the manager the story of one of the families we were serving, he presented me $200 in gift cards to ensure the family was able to persevere through this difficult time in their lives. 

“It is reassuring, even in economically challenging times, that the generosity of community businesses and members ensures that our mission, which is to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind, and body for all, is alive and well in Middlesex County,” said Lambert.

posted 09.04.2008

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