Cartersville Rotary members amassed $1,466 worth of new clothing in the form of pajamas, gloves, hats, slippers, socks and underwear for children in need.
For seven years, the Cartersville Rotary has adopted Cedartown-based Murphy-Harpst Children's Centers during Christmas and for the past several years have also provided for Cartersville's Advocates for Children.
Since the pajama drive began, the needs of both agencies have increased with this year's donation being the largest ever. The clothing to benefit 96 children was gathered through gifts from members of the Cartersville Rotary, Donna Morris and clients of Salon 120, Sam Jones United Methodist Church pairs and spares Sunday school class, and Second Genesis Ministry.
"I want to thank you for supporting us, the holidays are a challenging time for these kids because everyone in the world is gathering with family and close friends and these children don't have either of those," said Charles Troutman, CEO Murphy-Harpst.
Although each child placed in these organization makes a wish list and receives gifts, they also need basic necessities like clothing. At Murphy-Harpst, children will enjoy their gifts Christmas Eve at the annual pajama party.
"Every child needs pajamas. ... Yes, they want iPads but they want the things they need too," said Patty Eagar, executive director of Advocates for Children.
Cartersville Rotary member Daneise Archer has spearheaded the project since its inception getting involved first with Murphy-Harpst as a board member.
"I served on the Murphy-Harpst board for about nine years and just trying to get enough things for those children I thought about Rotary," Archer said. "And [Murphy-Harpst] just kept growing and adding on children. Then we wanted to add Advocates because we wanted to help all the children. This year, we were able to provide pajamas, slippers, hats, gloves and underwear for 96 children."
Murphy-Harpst, an outreach of the United Methodist Church, is a nonprofit residential treatment center for severely abused and neglected children. Other programs operated by Murphy-Harpst include specialized foster care and outpatient community services.
"We handle children who have been in foster care who have really failed in the traditional model," Troutman said, describing the mission of Murphy-Harpst. "Many of the kids that come to us have been in the system a year and maybe 10, 15, sometimes 20 placements. Can you imagine being a 10- or 11-year-old young person and be told by an adult numerous times, 'You can no longer live here?' What does that do to a child? It's tragic."
Murphy-Harpst serves more than 300 children each year throughout north Georgia and metro Atlanta and is currently at full board with 57 children in the residential program.
Advocates for Children operates a 13-bed residential facility as well as various programs including the Child Advocacy Center and Court Appointed Advocates. Through these arms, Advocates for Children serves 2,500 children and families each year.
"It's going to be a happy Christmas around Flowering Branch thanks to people like you," Eagar said, thanking members of the Cartersville Rotary. "But no child should have to grow up in a shelter."