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Clarkston Rotary needs volunteer help



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November 25, 2009 - Clarkston Rotary Club needs more volunteers this holiday season.

"When I took over Shoes for Kids about 10 years ago, about 200 children signed up," said Rotarian Joel DeLong. "This year, 647 are signed up – that's eight percent of the (Clarkston) school district."

Too many for the 27 or so members of the club.

" It's mind boggling – the club can't support it," DeLong said. "We need help, more volunteers and funding."

Volunteers are needed to collect donations on the streets of Clarkston in the Goodfellow newspaper sale, Friday-Saturday, Dec. 4-5, during two-hour shifts.

All funds collected will be used the following Saturday at Shoes for Kids distribution, providing new winter boots, shoes, socks, hats and gloves to Clarkston Community Schools children.

"Children are excited to receive the shoes and boots," he said. "I've spoken to parents who wrap them up as Christmas presents. Some see Clarkston as affluent, and some parts are, but we're no different from any other community. We have the same needs as any other community."

Volunteers are also needed at the Dec. 12 Shoes program at Oakland Woods Baptist Church, 5628 Maybee Road. Sign up for one hour shifts or longer, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

"We'll host 45 children every half hour during the one day event," DeLong said. "It stretches the imagination to process that many kids without help. The Rotary Club isn't enough to manage all of this."

The club is working with several community groups already, including Clarkston Optimists and knitting groups, he said.

Unable to volunteer? Rotary also needs donations to cover the cost of Shoes for Kids. Each child receives $45 in clothing, for a total of about $30,000.

Donations to the "Shoes for Kids" program can be sent to Clarkston Rotary "Shoes for Kids," P.O. Box 43, Clarkston, MI 48347.

"For a lot of us, we need a new pair of shoes, we go out and buy them," he said. "But the reality is many families must decide between housing and food, shoes and boots have to wait."

Of last year's 578 recipients, almost 300 are not on the list this year, DeLong said.

"I think their families probably left the state because of its economic climate," he said. "We have all new families. We've never seen so many kids signed up."

For more information, call Joel or Mindy DeLong at 248-625-9741 or email mindyjoel@netscape.net.

Phil is editor for The Clarkston News. He is a veteran of the first Iraq war, having served in the U.S. Army.
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