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‘Pajama Santas’ warm kids’
heads, hearts for the holidays
It’s That Time of Year:
Support the
Millennium Fund
Send your gift in the enclosed
envelope or go to
and donate online!
Grants awarded to programs
for children have an immediate
and lasting effect.
Akron Community Foundation and
the Akron Beacon Journal created
this endowed fund in 1999 to
support the health, enrichment and
education of area children.
Grants made from the Millennium
Fund are awarded to grassroots
children’s programs where even a
small grant makes a big difference.
Total gifts since 1999:
Grants awarded since 1999:
Millennium Fund for Children
a fund of
Akron Community Foundation
345 West Cedar Street
Akron, OH 44307-2407
phone: 330-376-8522
fax: 330-376-0202
Issue 12
Unwrapping a
pair of cozy pajamas is a beloved
Christmas tradition
in many families.
But for children in
homeless shelters
and impoverished
pajamas are often
an impossible luxury.
It’s not unusual
for these children to
spend the holiday
season sleeping in
their regular winter
The Pajama Program gives children in need a brand new
clothes just to stay
pair of cozy pajamas and a book they can call their own.
That’s why Patty
“For children who come from broken
Gillespie, president of the local chapter of
homes or are waiting to be adopted,
the Pajama Program, has made it her
pajamas are much more than something
mission to ensure no child has to go to
to sleep in,” Gillespie said. “Pajamas give
bed in jeans and a sweatshirt. With the
help of a $1,000 grant from the Millennium these children comfort and love – like a
hug at bedtime.”
Fund, the Pajama Program is giving local
The Pajama Program partners with area
children a brand new pair of warm
pajamas this holiday season.
See Pajamas, page 3
Adapted toys bring joy to area families
circuitry systems so they can be activated
Interactive toys like Hokey Pokey Elmo
using an assistive technology device called
are among the most popular items on
children’s Christmas lists. Kids of all ages a switch. Switches may be controlled with a
person’s breath, head movements or even
light up when they see Elmo dance and
are eager to squeeze
They are often
his hand for more. But
tricky for children
what happens when a
to learn, which is
child isn’t physically able
why practicing on
to press the button?
a toy is so useful.
That’s where RePlay
By using the
for Kids comes in. This
switch to activate
innovative agency
a toy, the child
adapts toys for children
builds valuable
with developmental
skills he can use
disabilities. Using volunteers and donated toys, Adapted toys like the doll above help in his daily life.
“If a child can
the organization is able kids learn to use their assistive devices.
make Elmo giggle
to repair and adapt
by using their switch, they can also use that
nearly 700 items each year. The toys are
switch to say, ‘I need a drink of water,’ or
then distributed to agencies throughout
to turn on the lights at home,” explained
Northeast Ohio that use them during
Natalie Wardega, assistant director. “We
physical therapy sessions.
make it fun and more motivating.”
To adapt these toys, volunteers –
The services provided by RePlay for Kids
including engineering students from the
University of Akron – adjust the toys’
See RePlay, page 4
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Millennium Fund awards $48,000 to youth programs
The Millennium Fund for Children
awarded 34 grants totaling $48,000
this year, bringing its cumulative grantmaking total to $498,909. The following agencies received grants in 2012:
ACCESS Inc., for counseling and
support services for homeless children,
Act II Productions Illusion Factory,
for free live theater performances for
children in need, $1,825
Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank,
for nutritious meal packs for hungry
children, $2,000
Akron Community Health
Resources Inc., for a health education
program for children with chronic
asthma, $2,000
Akron Community Service Center
& Urban League, for the Dining
with Santa holiday breakfast for
underprivileged kids, $500
Akron Rotary Foundation, to
purchase dictionaries for third graders
in Akron Public Schools, $500
Alchemy Inc., to purchase backpacks
and writing journals for low-income
boys at Crouse Elementary School,
Innes Middle School and Litchfield
Middle School, $1,680
Asian Services in Action Inc., for a
kindergarten readiness program for
refugee children living in the Leggett
and Findley community learning center
neighborhoods, $500
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Summit
& Medina Counties, for a mentoring
program for at-risk students at
Mason and Firestone elementary
schools, $500
Blessings in a Backpack (Akron),
to provide backpacks of food for the
weekend to students in need at Helen
Arnold Community Learning Center
and the Akron Digital Academy,
Blessings in a Backpack (Green),
to provide backpacks of food for the
weekend to students in need at Green
Primary School and Greenwood Early
Learning Center, $1,000
Caring for Kids Inc., to purchase
holiday and birthday gifts for children
in foster care, $1,600
CASA Board Volunteer Association
Inc., for the CASA Holiday Toy Shop,
which provides gifts to abused and
page 2
neglected children in the
Summit County court
system, $1,979
Children’s Concert
Society of Akron, to help
children from low-income
families attend the Concert
Hall Series, $1,500
Christ Child Society of
Akron, to purchase
diapers, wipes, blankets,
bottles and books for
mothers of at-risk
newborns, $2,000
Christian Fellowship
Basketball League, to
A grant to Jennings CLC will support a walking and nutrition
purchase T-shirts and
program that encourages students to adopt healthy behaviors.
trophies for Get Fit Day, a
physical fitness and nutrition program for cold-weather pajamas for children in
need, $1,000
inner-city youth, $800
Pregnancy Care of Summit County
Community Pregnancy Center Inc.,
Inc., to purchase cribs and mattresses
to purchase formula for the Feeding
for parents experiencing a crisis
Hungry Children program, $2,000
pregnancy, $2,000
Firestone High School Instrumental
Project GRAD Akron, for an early
Music Association, for an advanced
musical training program for underserved college awareness program that
introduces disadvantaged elementary
children from Akron Public Schools,
and middle school students to potential
careers and the importance of higher
First Congregational Church of
education, $1,500
Akron, for the Peanut Butter & Jelly
Outreach Program at Mason Community RePlay for Kids, to provide adapted
Learning Center, which provides students and repaired toys and assistive devices
for children with disabilities from lowin need with food for the weekend,
income families, $1,931
Victim Assistance Program, for
Good Neighbors Inc., to purchase
the “Kids Need a Firm Foundation”
toothpaste and toothbrushes for needy
picnic for children who have witnessed
children, $1,500
or been victims of violence, $1,500
Hattie Larlham Foundation, for the
Victory Gallop, for Petie the Pony
Youth Volunteer Corps program, which
visits at Akron Children’s Hospital for
pairs children in the community with
children with life-threatening illnesses
children with disabilities for one-on-one
and injuries, $1,500
social activities, $1,000
Here’s Hope Horse Farm, for the 2013 Weathervane Community
Playhouse, to provide scholarships
summer therapeutic riding program for
to children from low-income families,
children with special needs, $2,000
Jennings Community Learning
Women’s Auxiliary Board of
Center, Akron Public Schools, for a
lunchtime walking and nutrition program Summit County Children Services,
to purchase beds for kids in the care
that targets childhood obesity, $785
of children’s services, $1,000
Magical Theatre Company, for
Youth Excellence Performing
anti-bullying theater productions in
Arts Workshop, to purchase
Akron Public Schools, $2,000
supplies for a leadership conference
Mobile Meals Inc., to provide
for at-risk youth that focuses on
medically prescribed supplements to
building positive relationships,
children in need, $2,000
dropout prevention and personal
Pajama Program, Eastern Ohio
excellence, $900
Chapter, to purchase books and
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Fund preserves founders’ passion for helping kids
Thirteen years ago, the Millennium Fund
for Children was just a glimmer in the eye
of former Akron Beacon Journal editor
Jan Leach.
The paper had just published a series of
articles on the needs of local children,
most notably those affected by shaken
baby syndrome.
The topic lay heavy on her heart.
“I always felt newspapers should pay
close attention to the children and the
under-served in the community who don’t
have a voice of their own,“ she said. “We
were very interested in the well-being of
children in the area.”
Around that same time, former Beacon
Journal publisher John Dotson and thenAkron Community Foundation president
Jody Bacon attended a conference
designed to encourage the exchange of
ideas about local philanthropy. In the midst
of all the discussions, one simple idea
stood out: Ask people to donate their last
hour’s pay of the 20th century to benefit
children in the 21st century and beyond.
Then and there, the Millennium Fund for
Children was born.
“It became very clear that it was a
great idea,” Jan said. “We really liked it,
and we thought we could do it with the
resources of the community foundation.”
The concept caught on immediately, so
Jan, John, Jody and a handful of residents
set out to develop a focus. Jan and
John’s unique insight from years working
in local news led the group to a single
deserving focus: grassroots children’s
On Thanksgiving 1999, Akron Beacon
Journal and Akron Community
Foundation announced the establishment
of the Millennium Fund for Children, a
permanent endowment to improve the
lives of children in the Akron Beacon
Journal’s five-county circulation area.
More than a decade has passed since
the fund was created, but its core purpose
remains the same: using small grants to
make a big difference. Nearly half a million dollars in grants have fed hungry
infants, provided beds to children in foster
care, engaged young students with live
theater, and much more.
And the need is growing. This year,
Millennium Fund Grant History
With your support, grants from the Millennium Fund have more than doubled since 2000
Pajamas, continued from page 1
agencies to distribute pajamas and
books to kids of all ages. Many of the
children have never owned a book. For
them, the program helps spark a love
for reading. For younger children, it
gives their parents the chance to tuck
them in at night with a story.
“We take it for granted, but these kids
don’t have that,” Patty said. “The gift
of a new book is a simple gesture that
gives children the hope for a better
This year, the Pajama Program is teaming
up with the Akron Urban League to give
children in need a memorable holiday
At the Urban League’s annual Dining
with Santa event on Dec. 15, nearly 400
kids will enjoy a hot breakfast, visits with
Santa Claus, face painting and other fun
activities. Each of them will receive two
special gifts: a new pair of pajamas and a
book. A $500 Millennium Fund grant will
help make the celebration possible.
“Many times, the gifts the children
Former Akron Beacon Journal editor
Jan Leach has been involved with the
Millennium Fund since its beginning.
grant requests to the Millennium Fund
totaled more than $83,000 – a 13 percent increase over 2011. But with your
help – and the gifts of thousands of people across greater Akron – more grants
are being awarded each year to meet
those needs.
“Some of the issues we wrote about ...
in 1999 are the same today; they may
even be more acute,” she said. “Every
year, we see dozens of good programs
seeking help. Every year, we have to turn
down some of these worthy programs.
With the uneven economy and cutbacks
from state and government agencies,
there is probably an even greater need.”
Even a small gift can make a big difference: $50 can teach a refugee child
English; $35 can supply a year’s worth of
milk to a needy child; and $5 can help a
child victim of violence experience a carefree day of food, music and fun with local
first responders. Go online and give today
receive here are the only ones they’ll
receive during the holiday season,” said
Donna Sadler, vice president of programs
at the Urban League. “Meeting Santa
puts a big smile on their face. It’s very
Experience all the smiles and giggles
from last year’s Dining with Santa event
at Or, find
out how you, too, can help the Pajama
Program get jammies and books to
children in need by contacting
[email protected]
page 3
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U.S. Postage
Akron, OH
Permit No. 918
345 West Cedar Street
Akron, OH 44307
Millennium Fund Advisory
Committee Members
Lou Albertson
Connie Collins
Rev. Mark Frey
Jan Leach
John T. Petures Jr.
Shaun Schweitzer
Shirley Simon
Laurie Zuckerman
We strive for accuracy in our mailings. If you find any errors on the address label above,
please call 330-376-8522 or send an email to [email protected]
RePlay, continued from page 1
are critical for local agencies and families.
An off-the-shelf adapted toy can run up
to $200 – a price many parents are
unable to pay. As a result, agencies
often see families whose children’s only
exposure to adapted toys and devices is
during therapy.
Thankfully, a Millennium Fund grant
this year will make it possible for those
families to have adapted toys of their
own. The $1,931 grant will help the
agency produce free toys for low-income
families to use at home.
“We don’t want kids to lose those skills
when they go home,” Wardega said.
“Plus, if there are other children in the
house, they can play with the toys together.
It helps with inclusion.”
Some parents, like Lorie McMullen, attend
the workshops to learn how to adapt their
own toys. Lorie’s 3-year-old daughter,
Rakaya, was born with cerebral palsy.
“(The toys) teach Rakaya cause and
effect,” as well as independence, Lorie said.
“She wants to play with them by herself,
and I never thought I’d see that day.”
The gratitude from families and agencies
that receive these toys is priceless. In one
Above: A young boy uses his switch to
play with a Toy Story action figure.
When he activates the toy, Woody says
some of his famous phrases. Right:
Dr. Theresa Beyerle, associate director
of the Institute for Teaching and
Learning at the University of Akron,
looks on as a student adapts a stuffed
toy during a volunteer workshop.
memorable instance, an agency told
Wardega, “The light-up musical toy you
adapted was the only toy that motivated one
of our autistic children to do his therapy.”
It’s those kinds of stories that inspire
RePlay for Kids to keep increasing the
number of toys they produce for local
agencies. “Every time I deliver our toys,
they are so excited to see me,” Wardega
said. “It’s rewarding to see how important
our services are.”
Watch Lorie and University of Akron
engineering students transform toys at