Outreach Project director thanks community for support

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On behalf of the Lancaster County Outreach Project and Lancaster County Partners for Youth, I’d like to thank the community so much for whole-heartedly embracing the Outreach Project since it started two years ago.
The Outreach Project exists to enhance the lives of abused and neglected children in our county, who are in foster care or under the supervision of the Department of Social Services in Lancaster County.
I’ve gone to the community seeking countless numbers of beds, summer camp funding, school supplies, clothing, furniture, etc. and fulfilled these basic needs for the most fragile children in our county.
I have been truly humbled by the responses and donations I get to help these children, foster parents and DSS caseworkers.
In 2010 alone, we provided 2,290 items to DSS families, including 51 beds, which are needed when a child must be placed with a relative in an emergency. We provided 73 foster care children with birthday gifts, 169 children with school supplies, sent 13 children to camp and provided 265 children with gifts for Christmas.
With the help of Shiloh Unity ARP Women’s Ministries, we were able to honor a retiring foster parent of 28 years with a special surprise dinner.
We also hosted complementary projects, such as providing an etiquette class for our independent living children and taking foster care teens to visit local college campuses to continue their journey toward  becoming self-sufficient.
This project has helped alleviate some of the stress caseworkers feel by having us seek the contributions their clients need to become stabilized while they are able to focus on their job responsibilities, especially since our DSS investigates an average of 500 child abuse investigations each year.
During any point and time, DSS has about 65 ongoing active investigations of allegations of abuse and/or neglect involving children in Lancaster County.
Lancaster is only one of four communities in the nation with a program similar to the Outreach Project.
It has been successful because of our community – businesses, churches, social and civic group, and individuals all pitching in.
It does take a village to raise a child and the Outreach Project can never say thank you enough times to all of you who help us support our community’s youth.
If you would like more information on getting involved in the Outreach Project, please contact me at dbender@lcpartnersforyouth.org or call me at (803) 289-GIFT (4438).

Donna Bender is director of the Lancaster County Outreach Project.