Money raised for local children

Posted: February 2, 2013

The Winchester Star

WINCHESTER — With the help of a local fundraising campaign, homeless students in three area school divisions will now have the chance to feel more like their peers.

Through the 2012 WINC-FM Chain of Checks “Me Too” Campaign, $73,139 was raised for homeless students in Winchester and Frederick and Loudoun counties to help pay for field trips, school pictures, yearbooks, prom tickets and other items they might not normally be able to afford.

The campaign ended Dec. 31.

“Whatever we can do to help lower the barriers and have the student feel they have the childhood of the child next to them, it’s worth it,” said Judy McKiernan, lead student support specialist with Winchester Public Schools. “Each child wants to be like the child sitting next to them.”

Each division will receive $23,000. The remainder of the money will be used by the Chain of Checks Foundation for future assistance to people in need.

Students are considered homeless if they live in shelters or motels, or if they “double up” in a house with family or friends.

Frederick County Public Schools has 137 homeless students out of a student population of about 13,000. With the help of the donation, the division will have more money for the needs of homeless children, such as prom tickets, pay-to-participate fees and graduation gowns, announcements and pictures.

“It is important that our homeless students have the same opportunities as our other students,” said Mitch Peeling, director of student support services. “They have no control over their situation and should be afforded the things that help to stabilize their lives as much as possible.”

Winchester Public Schools has 120 homeless students out of a student population of 4,000. The donation will help with such items as extra lunch money, dress shoes for a choir concert, fees and specialized equipment needed to participate in sports and the cost of a field trip or yearbook.

“The money raised will supplement school division funds targeting efforts to provide our homeless students with a positive, compassionate educational experience while coping with difficult transitional family hardships,” Schools Superintendent Rick Leonard wrote in an email Friday.

The Clarke County system, which was not part of the campaign, has 14 homeless students.

The divisions provide transportation to and from school, school supplies, clothing and linkages to community resources for their homeless students.

The money raised included proceeds from the Chain of Checks Golf Tournament in October, Chain of Checks Night at Wayside Theatre, opening night at Frederick County’s Winter Wonderland, the Clarke County Community Band’s Christmas Concert and a bowling tournament at Northside Lanes.

The radio station’s listeners, schools, clubs and business offices also brought their collected donations to the WINC studios in Winchester and Leesburg during the first-ever Chain of Checks Radio-Thon Dec. 13.

An on-air check presentation will take place Feb. 15 at 8:30 a.m. in the studios at 520 N. Pleasant Valley Road.

— Contact Rebecca Layne at rlayne@winchesterstar.com