Thursday, December 4, 2003

Head Start's holiday brighter

Neighbors' donations top $9,000 after theft

By Erica Solvig
The Cincinnati Enquirer

SOUTH LEBANON - A burglar might have stolen Happy Hearts Head Start's holiday fund-raising money, but the community's heart then seemed to grow two extra sizes.

Wednesday, area residents donated more than $9,000 after hearing about the break-in at the center, according to Lisa Cayard, director of Warren County Community Services Head Start. People continue to pledge money, including several who have contacted the Enquirer after the story was published Wednesday.

"It's just been incredible. We just had no idea we would get a response like that," Cayard said. "It's just unbelievable to know that so many people care about these children."

Greater Cincinnati residents and businesses, such as The Home Depot, donated televisions as well as a DVD player, cordless drill, microwave, sweeper and extension cord.

Someone broke into the center, located in the old South Lebanon Elementary School on High Street, during the Thanksgiving break. The building was ransacked, and numerous items were taken - including about $1,600 in cash parents had raised by selling gift-basket raffle tickets and homemade candles. The center's insurance covers everything but the cash, which was needed to replace aging computer equipment.

Parents will decide later this month what will be purchased with Wednesday's donations, but they likely will buy a new heating system for the school along with the computers and other necessities.

"The heat doesn't work very well there, and it's quite cold," Cayard said. "It's been a complaint for several years."

Head Start officials say all donations by residents and businesses will go to the South Lebanon center. Warren County Community Services Head Start can be contacted by phone at (513) 695-2215 or by mail at 570 North State Route 741 Lebanon, OH 45036.


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