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Students Bet on Local Kids' Agency


Children’s lives are nothing to gamble on, yet several hundred students will gather in the Campus Center Carroll Room this Saturday, March 31, to place bets on a local agency’s work with kids.

That is, attendees of “Aces High,” a poker game benefit event, will play Blackjack and Texas hold-’em poker to raise money for Friends of  Children, a Florence organization that provides mentoring, advocacy and community education for at-risk youth.

The event, which will take place from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m., will include refreshments, a cash bar and a deejay spinning tunes. Admission is free, but for a suggested $5 donation to Friends of Children, participants can get $3,000 worth of poker chips, and will receive 10 tickets for a raffle drawing to win prizes, including some donated by Northampton area businesses.

“Aces High” originated as a collaboration between the senior and Ada Comstock  Scholars class cabinets and the student organization Adas Helping Adas, says Kara Kharmah ’07, who is the Ada class senior representative. But it has since expanded to include the three other class cabinets as well as student organizations Smith Kids Connection and Service Organizations of Smith.

“This event is the first of its kind,” says Kharmah. “It is the first to be put on in collaboration with all five class cabinets.”

Event organizers chose Friends of Children as a beneficiary of proceeds because of its demonstrated positive impact on the lives of local children through several needed programs, Kharmah said. The agency was founded in 1988 when concerned citizens began fundraising to support local children’s programs. When the state government closed its child advocacy agency, the Office for Children, Friends of Children refocused on advocacy for kids in western Massachusetts.

Its programs include: assigning Court-Appointed Special Advocates; Adolescent Advocacy Mentoring Project, in which more than 100 foster children are partnered with adult mentors; Child Advocacy Program; the Foster Dignity Project, which provides children moving among foster programs with backpacks and duffel bags to carry their belongings, instead of trash bags; and Community Education.

“It had been a goal of the Ada Class cabinet to create a project to support this organization as a public service project for our class,” said Kharmah.

Click here for more information on Friends of Children.


3/28/07   By Eric Sean Weld
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