By James Neal, Staff Writer
Enid News & Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
Shoppers will have the opportunity to help local special-needs kids and adults while they wrap up their Christmas shopping during a matching-funds drive this week at 4RKids Foundation.
Modern Woodmen of America will match all sales Dec. 20-22 at both locations of The 2nd Story — A Unique Book and Gift Store, at 710 Overland Trail, and inside the downtown Non-Profit Center, at 114 S. Independence.
All proceeds from sales up to $2,500 those three days will be matched, and will go to assist 4RKids in its mission to promote awareness of developmentally disabled individuals and to provide vocational rehabilitation, education and social interaction for developmentally disabled adults.
The 4RKids Foundation aims to give developmentally disabled adults the opportunity to earn wages, learn life skills and gain social interaction through its vocational rehabilitation program.
The foundation hires adults with developmental disabilities to work in both gift shops, the Putt Putt 4RKids miniature golf course, and The 2nd Story employment center.
They staff the miniature golf shop and gift shops and perform a wide variety of tasks in the employment center’s workshop. Crews from the workshop fill local contracts to clean offices and shred office paper, and workers make cards and pet products and prepare donated items for sale in the gift shops.
Bret Whinery, operations manager for 4RKids, said this week’s matching funds campaign will help the foundation purchase needed equipment and supplies for the workshop and employment programs.
“We rely on donations to purchase the inventory and supplies for the jobs we do,” Whinery said.
Whinery said the gift stores provide not only a unique shopping opportunity for the community, but also an employment opportunity for adults with developmental disabilities.
“This isn’t just a store, it’s an employment vehicle,” Whinery said. “It allows us to put our clients in a retail position, and they normally wouldn’t be able to do that. It’s about more than just selling, it’s creating employment.
“Every project we undertake, we look at it in terms of how it could create jobs for our individuals.”
Cissy Duarte, Enid office manager for Modern Woodmen Fraternal Financial Services, said she was motivated to help 4RKids with that mission after visiting the gift shop, seeing the clients at work in the employment center and speaking with 4RKids program director Tricia Mitchell.
“She (Mitchell) explained the program to me, and I just thought it would be a very good way for us to help the community,” Duarte said.
The Enid chapter of Modern Woodmen of America participates in community service throughout the year. Modern Woodmen volunteers regularly volunteer with or donate to programs such as Special Olympics, local schools, and disaster relief fundraising.
Duarte said the Christmas season seemed like an appropriate time to help 4RKids by matching the sales proceeds at the gift shops.
“We haven’t helped these people before, and it looked like a good project, and I thought this would be a great time of the year to send our members in there shopping,” Duarte said.
Modern Woodmen of America will match up to $2,500 of sales at the gift shops this Thursday through Saturday.
“The hopes are we can help put about $5,000 in their fund,” Duarte said.
For more information on 4RKids and its programs, go to 4rkids.com.