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Prevent Child Abuse Rowan to sponsor Adopt-a-Child Christmas program

By Susan Shinn Turner

For the Salisbury Post

SALISBURY — When Beth McKeithan talks with new children served by Prevent Child Abuse Rowan, one of the things she asks them this time of year is, “Are you excited about Christmas?”

“We’ve had several families tell us that they haven’t had Christmas in five or six years,” says McKeithan, the agency’s executive director. “We’ve gotten some kids recently who are at really low socioeconomic levels.”

To help change that, the agency is sponsoring the Adopt-a-Child Christmas program for the fourth consecutive year.

People are invited to pick up tags from the agency’s offices in the Terrie Hess House, 130 Woodson St., beginning Nov. 28. The tags list “needs” and “wants” for children to age 18. Unwrapped gifts are due to the Terrie Hess House by Dec. 18.

Julie Freeze, the agency’s clinical services coordinator, is heading the Adopt-a-Child effort.

“Since the weather is getting cooler now, we’re seeing a need for coats and socks, and we always need shoes,” she says.

Under “wants,” Freeze lists Baby Alive dolls for younger girls and superhero toys for younger girls and boys. Because of the recent “Justice League” movie, there’s a call for any gifts related to Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman.

Older girls have listed Bath & Body Works products on their wants list, along with coloring books for colored pencils.

“Our older boys always love sports,” Freeze says. “We get requests for footballs, basketballs, and Panthers gear.”

Freeze praises church groups, community groups, and individuals who step up each year. One of those groups is the China Grove Middle School PTA, which has participated since the program’s inception.

“We do a toy drive every year for kids of all ages, and we deliver to the Terrie Hess House,” says Becky Sides, PTA president. “The students like being able to help others — kids who are going through a hard time and could use some encouragement.

“My three kids and I have talked about Prevent Child Abuse Rowan and what they have to offer,” Sides said. “My own kids have been friends with kids who need these services. It’s a way for China Grove Middle School to give back to the community. It’s a good way to be involved and show we care about others, and it’s a way for our kids to help other kids.”

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