For Immediate Release
Thursday, May 26, 2011
Contact: Gail Ghigna Hallas, RN, PhD
Saint Bernard comforts injured kids in tornado aftermath
Winning Kids Club mascot travels works with schools and churches
See photos with captions below.
The Winning Kids Club mascot, Paxton, spent ten days in the Alabama tornado area delivering baby clothes, blankets, shoes, and toys to children. And brought smiles to troubled kids’ faces.
Seeing the positive impact on the troubled children, the group is currently filling their trailer again and want to reach out to Joplin, Missouri kids next. However, since there was no time to write grant proposals, the Alabama expenses were $3,200.00 out of pocket. All staff are volunteers. Now the club seeks funding for the Joplin trip from local businesses, asking for tax-deductible donations for travel expenses. And deliver blankets, toys, and warm furry hugs from an affectionate Saint Bernard.
They also plan to incorporate a new division, Saintly Bernard Comfort Therapy for Troubled Children.
For more information or to donate, contact Dr. Gail Ghigna Hallas, at 239-671-0946 or WinningKidsClub@aol.com.
The Winning Kids Club (www.WinningKidsClub.org) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) charity organization that serves children who disadvantaged, disabled, and at risk, as well as in times of disaster. The Winning Kids Club's Believe in Yourself and Win! programs promote confidence, self-esteem, and offer unique educational opportunities, including Braille, creative writing, beginning guitar, acting and theatre, academic tutoring, after-school programs, homeschooling assistance, and the new Saintly Bernard program offering comfort therapy for children and families during disaster, death, divorce, illness, injury, trauma, bullying -- and for children who have social adjustment issues, such as autism and ADHD.
After returning to Florida, Paxton and Dr. Gail Ghigna Hallas plan to head back to the tornado area, this time to work with children and families suffering from the horrific storms in Joplin, Missouri. Helping make that trip possible are students at Sunshine Elementary School in Lehigh Acres, Florida, who are writing letters to children who lost homes and family members in the tornadoes. The Sunshine students are also challenging themselves to fill up the Winning Kids Club trailer with stuffed animals and blankets to be delivered when Paxton goes to Joplin.
Miss Tracey, our poster child for the Winning Kids Club's Saintly Bernard Comfort Therapy Program.
Paxton comforts Ari Hallmark, 6, who was thrown 40 feet from what used to be her home. She remained conscious the whole time.
In November 2010, Ari had told her teacher she was having nightmares that her mother and father were going to be killed soon. On April 27, 2011, Ari lost seven members of her family in a tornado, including her parents. Her mom had just graduated as valedictorian from her nursing class. Wearing a cast on her broken arm, and sporting over 30 staples and stitches in her head, Ari proudly stood in for her mother, accepting her mom’s nursing diploma and Florence Nightingale pin. Very, very heart wrenching. But the smile on Ari’s face as she sits pony-like on Paxton’s back is warming. Pictured L-R: Paxton, the Saintly Bernard; Laura Byars, kindergarten teacher at Union Grove Elementary School, Union Grove, Alabama; Ari Hallmark; Dr. Gail Ghigna Hallas, President of the Winning Kids Club.
Pictured L-R, front row: Lucy Sedlak, 8, coordinator between Winning Kids Club and NCC; Anna Talley, 7; Mary Jackson, 7; Paxton, the Saintly Bernard, Comfort Therapy mascot for the Winning Kids Club; Jamie Brown, 8; Ella Foster, 5. Back row: Olivia Foster, 10; Dr. Gail Ghigna Hallas, President of the Winning Kids Club; Jamie Thrasher, 8; Shelley Sedlak, Facilitator for Neighborhood Christian Center, Decatur, Alabama.