GREENSBURG, Pa. – Rotary of Westmoreland: A Young Professionals Club sponsored nine children in this year’s Miracle of Giving program. This annual campaign is lead by the efforts of the Westmoreland County Referral and Information Helpline. For 19 years out of its 23 year existence, the Referral and Information Helpline has been providing assistance to families who face hardships during the holiday season such as terminal illness, unexpected death, and other devastating circumstances, and cannot afford gifts for their children.
“This year we have seen an increase in our numbers due to the economic recession of families who are facing difficult hardships,” said Wanda Layman, Director of the Referral and Information Helpline. She added, “We…”
Rotary of Westmoreland sponsored nine different children from five families across the County. Ranging in ages of four to eleven, some of the children sponsored by the young professional club face hardships themselves. “We have a four year old and a five year old in different families who are suffering from leukemia, and another six year old boy suffering from a brain tumor,” said Autumn DeLellis, club President. She added, “It is a painful time for a parent to worry about how to his/her child’s holiday special, when they are struggling to paying medical and travel expenses for them. Our hearts go out to each of them.”
Referrals to the program are made typically through community professionals such as ministers, doctors’ offices, counselors, church groups, school nurses, and guidance counselors. Families eligible to participate in the program are typically working class families who meet a certain income level that disqualifies them for social services, but do not make enough to recover from their circumstances.
So, what did these children ask for Christmas? From Legos and baseballs to tea sets and jewelry, they asked for everyday childhood toys. “Our six year old asked for camouflage clothes, a train set, a scooter, and a game for his Nintendo,” commented DeLellis. “And he, as well as all the other children, got exactly everything they asked for.”