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The Community Foundation of the Ozarks, in partnership with Commerce Trust, awarded a $3,000 Coover Regional Grant to the Newborns in Need, Inc., Southwest Missouri Chapter, to provide parents with baby items not covered by food stamps or the WIC program.
The grant was one of 12 awarded across southern Missouri through the Louis L. and Julia Dorothy Coover Regional Grantmaking Program aimed at fighting rural poverty. The Coover program awarded $105,000 for the 2011 grants, which were presented at Commerce Trust in Springfield on Feb. 15.
The Chapter serves parents in Douglas, Laclede, Ozark, Webster, and Wright counties. The need for assistance has increased through the economic downturn for items like blankets, sleepers, socks, diapers and baby wipes, particularly for families dealing with difficult medical and financial issues.
More than 35 volunteers sew baby items, collect donations and distribute items to the families. Of the 279,000 items that have been distributed in the five-county area, 200,000 of them have been made by hand, said Jerrie Brooks, who works for the Douglas County Health Department.
Brooks said programs such as WIC can provide formula and offer education on breast feeding.
“But I can’t diaper their baby or coddle that baby in a blanket to take home,” she said.
That’s why she is so appreciative of the outfits, quilts, blankets and other items made by the volunteers.
“I get the hugs, smiles and see some tears,” she said of distributing those items to new mothers. “I really, truly believe in what they do for our people.”
This year’s grant awards were focused on programs providing basic needs for kids, like food, medical, and dental care.
“We had many strong requests, but the review panel felt that our highest priority should be working to defeat the chronic problems that affect kids across our region,” said Jill Reynolds, vice president at Commerce Trust and secretary of the CFO Board of Directors. “Kids can’t succeed at learning or at life if they are hungry, or need medical or dental care. All of these recipients honor the work Mrs. Coover wanted to support through her legacy gift.”
Mrs. Coover was a 30-year employee at Commerce Bank who established the Louis L. and Julia Dorothy Coover Charitable Foundation in 1992 to honor her husband’s memory. Since this program began in 2003, the Coover Regional Grantmaking Program has awarded 194 grants worth $2.6 million to fight rural poverty. This year’s competitive grant cycle included more than $500,000 in requests.
The Community Foundation of the Ozarks is a public charitable organization with assets totaling $172 million as of Dec. 31, 2010, which represent some 1,800 funds, 42 affiliates, and about 380 non-profit agency partners and schools.