More than 1,000 children benefit from Gram Lorraine Program

LITTLE FALLS, N.Y. (WKTV) - It started as the Adopt-A-Child program in the 1980's, today it's known as The Gram Lorraine Program. Anonymous donors are making sure Christmas is extra special for thousands of children in the Mohawk Valley.

"It's a time for all of us to give to the children who are in need," said Robert J. Peters Sr., Mayor of Little Falls. NEWSChannel 2 met up with were inside the Holy Family Perish Hall

The program started in the early 1980's, founder RJ Lenarcic was teaching a college course at Herkimer County Community College. "A group of my students were concerned about children walking around with threadbare clothes and without boots and they decided to do something about it," said Lenarcic. "The result was the Adopt-a-child program. The first year they provided boots, coats and other warm clothing for more than 200 children."

Friday was distribution day for The Gram Lorraine Program. Christmas gifts were purchased by sponsors for more than a thousand children from eight school districts in the Mohawk Valley. Parents were able to pick up the gifts and bring them home to put underneath the tree.

Students are chosen for this program by teachers and nurses. A letter is sent home in September, and the parents or guardians can either decline the help, or fill out a sheet with more information about the child and their needs for Christmas.

Sponsors vary from women in their 80's who crochet blankets, hats and mittens- to businesses and organization. A Girl Scout Unit in Little Falls also pooled together it's resources to sponsor children. Lenarcic says it was a learning experience for the girls. "Each mother brought her child. It gave them an example of what Christmas spirit is all about and we can thank them for that at an early age understanding that it is better to give then receive," said Lenarcic.

Donors put together four articles of clothing and a toy, book or game of their choice. Many sponsors though, add much more to their donations, filling bags with wrapped gifts.

The parents are grateful when they come to pick up the donations. "What we see are tears. A lot of them literally wouldn't have had a Christmas if it hadn't been for this program," said Lenarcic.

Here's a list of schools that are taking part in The Gram Lorraine Program this year:

Benton Hall Academy, Little Falls
Fisher Elementary School, Mohawk
Barringer Elementary School, Ilion
Remington Elementary School, Ilion
Frankfort Schuyler Elementary School, Frankfort
Poland Elementary School, Poland
Owen D. Young. Van, Hornesville
Fort Plain Elementary School, Fort Plain
BOCES Migrant Worker

Organizers are hoping more schools and organizations will get involved next year.

"This is a program that is not very difficult to do it's extremely qualitative and we'd be more than happy to work with them in developing their program if interested."

The Gram Lorraine Program is a facet of the Herkimer County Hunger Coalition.

Donations are accepted:
Herkimer County Hunger Coalition
P.O. Box 622
Herkimer, NY 13350

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