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Head Start students get a head start on winter

More than a year later Hurricane Katrina victims are still receiving various forms of assistance from faith based organizations.

Many youngsters were guaranteed warm bones Thursday thanks to the consolidated effort of volunteers who crocheted sweaters for the Knit for Kids Outreach program through Guideposts and distributed through World Vision in Picayune. The last two organizations are faith based organizations that help people in need. Through the program about 150 sweaters were distributed through the Head Start Program that will keep young people in the Picayune area warm this winter, said Phylis Freeman, World Vision Picayune area manager. Later in the day the Guidepost group went to Slidell to distribute the handmade sweaters to needy children in that area.

The sweaters will also be distributed in Hancock and Perry counties, Freeman said.

When the children were ready they were brought in to look at the available sweaters and try on some they might like. Many children had no problem letting the kind volunteers know whether they liked or did not like a certain sweater, so they tried on another.

“They kind of try them on like they were in the store to see which one they like,” said Richard Curtis of Guidepost.

After selecting their sweater the children were also presented with a book to take home and enjoy.

Sweater sizes ranged from small enough for an infant to large enough for third and fourth graders, Freeman said.

The effort’s main goal is to help those affected by Hurricane Katrina regain some of items they may have lost, along with some self esteem, said Mississippi Action for Progress Head Start Regional Director Cassandra Jackson.

“So we appreciate any support we can get to help the families and children we serve,” Jackson said.

If any members of the community would like to donate their time to participate in the Knit for Kids program they can call World Vision at 601-798-9992. The pattern for the sweaters can be downloaded at http://www.knitforkids.org/#question1.

Knit for Kids is a program that was started in 1996 and with the help of 3,000 volunteers they were able to provide children in this and surrounding areas with sweaters. Since the program’s inception about 350,000 sweaters have been made and the program expects to reach their 400,000 goal by the end of December, said Rev. Pablo Diaz, Vice President of Ministries for Guidepost. The Guidepost volunteers who hand made each of the sweaters ranged in age from seniors to the young, Diaz said.

“It’s their way of serving children across this country,” Diaz said. “Because it’s handmade it makes (the children) feel special.”