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New clothes for a new year

| Friday, Aug. 25, 2006

The Salvation Army has helped millions since its inception in 1878, both spiritually and economically, offering the hand of assistance to those in need. With school days looming, the Connellsville Service Center of the Salvation Army gave clothing vouchers to many area students, enabling them to shop for clothing for the upcoming school year.

"We're giving out $50 vouchers to 39 school-aged students," said Patty Handford, director and human resources secretary for the Connellsville service center. "We have students from kindergarten age and up."

Handford was joined by Chris Crow, Salvation Army senior field representative, for the voucher presentation.

The vouchers were presented to the students at the Connellsville Wal-Mart. They then used them there to purchase new clothing items.

"We're very pleased to do this," Crow said. "Don't you think that all kids should have something nice for the first day of school?"

The vouchers were distributed, and the children and parents then shopped. They had to use the vouchers the day they were given. A special register was designated for the voucher usage.

The shoppers did not take long in making selections; the students happily selected their clothing.

"This is the best part of the job," Crow said, "seeing the kids smile. It's important the first day of school to have new clothes."

Wal-Mart is only too pleased to be part of the program sponsored by the Salvation Army.

"This is a great thing," said Jane Croftcheck, community involvement director for the local Wal-Mart. "It's just great. They can just shop and choose what they want."

Croftcheck added that associates were notified of the students shopping and gave help to those who requested assistance.

The voucher program is something Croftcheck would like to see repeated at the beginning of each school year.

"The need was so great," Handford said of the voucher recipients.

The Salvation Army will again post "Angel Trees" at the Connellsville Wal-Mart in the fall in preparation for the upcoming Christmas season.

Anyone can choose an "angel" or two that bear a child's name and age. Gifts purchased for these children are then returned in time for distribution for the holidays.

"The angel trees are treasure for children," Croftcheck said. "And this year we will have one at each entrance."

The Salvation Army is devoted to helping members of the community who are in need, officials noted. Volunteers and donations are always welcome and appreciated. For information, call the Salvation Army's Connellsville location at 724-628-2010.

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