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Children's charity program having immediate and significant imp

by Jennifer Biller

STAFF WRITER

BRIDGEPORT -- When doctors Brad Hall and Kelly Nelson gave the Harrison County Board of Education $16,000 in December to help underprivileged children, they never expected it to go so far.

Less than three months later, more than 100 of those children have new coats, shoes, gloves and socks for the winter. In addition, some of the children have received new eyeglasses, dental work and medical examinations.

"We're so pleased with the results so far," Nelson said. "I've talked to the teachers and counselors and it's been really heartwarming to hear the stories."

The two physicians, representing Medbrook Children's Charity, held a golf tournament last year to raise the funds. They distributed $5,000 to the school nurses' discretionary fund and $11,000 to the children's apparel program.

"We thought it would be a great way to help kids in need," Nelson said. "Obviously there are a lot of kids who fall between the cracks."

The children's apparel program had previously existed in the early '90s, but disappeared due to lack of support, said Director Judy Schillace.

The program has a volunteer in each of the county schools. When teachers see a child in the school without a coat or wearing worn-out shoes, they contact the parents for approval to buy the student some clothing.

"With the requests and the actual purchases, we've spent about $6,500 so far," Schillace said. "Some of that was spent for kids who lost everything in house fires."

The county has received high praise for the program, by parents and students.

"The kids are so happy to get new things instead of someone else's old things," Schillace said. "I've received several notes from appreciative parents."

The Medbrook Children's Charity will sponsor the golf tournament again this year on Aug. 27 at Pete Dye Golf Course.

Staff writer Jennifer Biller can be reached at 626-1449 or jbiller@exponent-telegram.com.

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