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East County moms warm holidays for area children

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  • | 5:00 a.m. December 22, 2010
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MANATEE COUNTY — As children returned to school from the holiday break last year, Beth Grogan and Lori Bower were heartbroken to hear some children say Santa had not visited them.

So this year, the East County residents spearheaded a campaign to provide toys, clothing and other items for needy children at Rowlett Elementary School, where their children attend.

“It was wonderful,” Bower said of the toy pick-up Dec. 15. “It was very organized, and the families were extremely grateful. Everybody came in and grabbed their packages. We gave them gift cards to Walmart for food. Bealls ended up donating cases and cases of clothes, so we were able to give the children more outfits. Parents could take leftovers for themselves and (their other children).”

Coordinating with teachers, Bower and Grogan, co-chairs for the Rowlett Family Association Mitten Committee, identified more than 130 children at the school — 32 families — who could use financial and other help over the holidays. The women sent home letters about the drive to parents and in September began soliciting donations of toys, warm clothing, gift cards for groceries and specific “wish list” items for each child.

At times, the sheer number of toys and items needed to make the campaign successful overwhelmed Grogran and Bower. But throughout the campaign, Rowlett families met those needs with donations of time and resources.

“We’ve cried every day at such thoughtfulness (of Rowlett families who have helped),” Grogan said. “The generosity of the families here is overwhelming.”

The season of sharing also offered life lessons to the children at Rowlett whose families were able to give, Bower said.

“My kids have everything they need and they want,” she said, adding she used the time to teach her children the difference between a need and a want. “You’re teaching your kids, too, that there are people in this world who need a little extra help. You need to sacrifice a little bit to help them.”

Grogan and Bower said teachers at Rowlett have orchestrated similar efforts in years’ past, but they were asked to organize this year’s efforts.

Contact Pam Eubanks at [email protected].


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