Saturday, June 7, 2003

Orphanage needs summer items

By Maggie Downs
The Cincinnati Enquirer

What good are mental health services when you don't have clothes?

That's something Gloria Wahler of St. Joseph Orphanage wonders.

The Monfort Heights orphanage helps hundreds of abused and neglected children each year through residential and outpatient mental heath programs. But this year has been particularly bad for donations, affecting the children who often arrive with little more than the clothes on their backs.

"If we had the same 100 kids all the time, that would be one thing," Wahler said. "But we get a new crop of kids every 30 to 60 days. Our need is voracious."

The dire need now is for summer items, including swimsuits, beach towels, pool shoes, goggles, sunscreen and swim fins.

New or gently used items - in a variety of sizes from children to adult - are preferred.

Basics, like underwear and socks, always come in handy, too. "We need the boring stuff, but the necessary stuff," Wahler said. "Everybody likes to buy a pretty Barbie at Christmastime, but Suzie still needs a pair of shoes in July."

The orphanage is looking ahead to fall as well, asking for such items as backpacks and school supplies.

This year there will be more children at the orphanage than usual with the Norwood Summer Connections program for children who have been diagnosed with things like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, depression and bipolar disorders.

The effort, which begins June 16, is an outgrowth of a similar after-school program at the Norwood Middle School.

For the summer program, 30 children in grades 4-7 will be at the orphanage for six hours each week day, swimming, doing art and other activities.

To donate items: Bring new or gently used items to St. Joseph Orphanage, 5400 Edalbert Drive, Monfort Heights (behind LaSalle High School). Hours are 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. For information, call 513-741-3100.


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