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CARES carries on with fundraisers

May 07, 2008
If you get out and about in Crawford County, there's a good chance you'll run into somebody from the CARES program wanting to sell you something. The before- and after-school program has generated some $70,000 through fundraisers, donations and program fees in just the past six months, and officials hope to raise even more.

The money is needed because the federal grant that has provided the majority of the program's funding for the past three years is running out and renewal of the grant is uncertain.

"It's tight," CARES director Kim Grizzel said of the financial situation.

The program, which has served about 1,000 students in kindergarten through eighth grade this year, has enough money to get through the summer, but with a different look than before, she said. For example, this summer, students will be charged for field trips, Grizzel said. However, she noted, the daily fee will not increase.

"That will go up only as a last resort," she said.

Grizzel said the program has applied for a Carol M. White Physical Education Program Grant worth $373,000 per year for three years that it should learn the status of later this month.

"I do feel it was a very strong application," she said, noting the Indiana University Center for Education and Evaluation Policy, which works with the high school's PACK after-school program, assisted. "They make our grant proposals so much stronger."

The grant would not only provide financial assistance to the CARES program but also to the schools, by enabling them to have physical education each day of the week instead of just one day like now.

Grizzel said the grant would provide enough of the CARES program where it could self sustain the rest for the three years of the grant.

The CARES program, Grizzel added, has also applied for a grant from the Duke Energy Foundation and received $2,000 worth of food from The Salvation Army.

Having always put an emphasis on fundraising, the program has ramped up its efforts now in light of its financial uncertainty. The program just recently joined forces with the South Harrison Community School Corp. to provide chicken dinners for the corporation's spring band concerts.

Other efforts include this Saturday's demolition derby at the Crawford County 4-H Community Park at 7 p.m.; Crawfordopoly, a Monopoly-like board game with a Crawford County theme; and the Legacy Brick Project.

The latter is the idea of English Elementary School site coordinator Lori Beard and allows the public to purchase bricks at any of the five elementary schools that will be used in walkways at the schools. The engraved bricks can feature a message or someone's name and will include a star if in honor of someone or a cross if in memory of someone. Three sizes are available: 12-inch-by-12-inch granite for $200, 8-inch-by-8-inch regular for $40, and 4-inch-by-4-inch regular for $25.

"We've sold a lot of the $40s and lot of the $25s," Grizzel said.

Orders will be taken through the end of the school year and work on the projects at the schools will begin later this summer with an unveiling in the fall. More orders will be taken later, with the projects being added onto each year.

Grizzel said the bricks have been a hit, especially with the schools' alumni associations, with more than $13,000 worth having already been sold.

"The alumni associations have been fantastic to work with," she said.

Other projects this year will include teaming up with the Town of Marengo to conduct a raffle for the annual Fourth of July celebration, offering Race Car Bingo at the demolition derby, and a raffle for two tickets to the Brickyard 400, as well as hospitality passes, donated by Jasper Engines and Transmissions.

In addition, CARES is in the midst of a basketball league, has quarterly yard sales, and sales elephant ears at festivals and the annual Crawford County 4-H Fair. This year, the CARES staff will also handle parking at the fair, earning a split of the proceeds.

CARES has also continued offering the Market Day food program, collects money at roadblocks, and has signed up with the Search and Give program offered by Microsoft and Scholastic. The program enables people to raise money for the CARES program by using the www.searchandgive.com search engine when exploring the Internet. If they sign up, they earn tickets which can be donated as money.

Plus, as a non-profit organization, people may give tax-deductible donations to CARES. The program received $10,000 from Evertson Companies and has received donations from individuals, as well, including a recent $500 gift from the grandparent of a CARES student.

Besides regular donations, people may also sponsor a child for $30 per month or $160 per semester.

Grizzel praised the CARES staff, calling them "phenomenal," for their willingness to volunteer so much of their time, including nights and weekends, for the fundraisers.

For more information about the CARES program or any of the fundraisers, call the CARES office at 365-2530.

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