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BOARDMAN Children reach out to aid young victims



Published: Sat, September 22, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Money collected will benefit the children affected by the terrorist attacks.

By IAN HILL

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

BOARDMAN -- Matt Martin is only 31/2 weeks old, but he's already helping some of the young victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.

Matt was one of several local children brought to the Babies "R" Us store on Doral Drive by their families Saturday afternoon to leave their handprint on a large white canvas. The canvas is part of an effort to raise money for the children whose parents were killed during the attacks.

Each child left a red, white or blue handprint on the canvas, which is 6 feet high and 9 feet long.

Louann Martin of Struthers, Matt's grandmother, said she brought him to the store to demonstrate her family's support for those who have been affected by the attacks.

"We need to stick together," Martin said, adding that Matt, "just started life a little bit ago, and there's so much going on."

Donations: Parents who brought their children to the store were encouraged to give to a fund that would benefit New Yorkers For Children, a nonprofit organization that works with New York City's child welfare agency.

Valerie Sherb of Austintown said the handprints left by Matt and other children, "represent all the little loving and caring hands throughout the U.S., giving to kids in need."

Sherb is the founder of God's Loving Hands, the nonprofit organization that set up Saturday's event. The organization was created Sept. 12, when Sherb learned that the parents of as many as 500 children may have been killed in the attacks in New York City.

"I can come home and hug my kids," said Sherb, the mother of three children. "There will be 500 kids that will have no one to do that for them."

Sherb added that she had a "spiritual inspiration" for forming the group, quoting Isaiah 41:10, "I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand."

She said she hopes to take the canvas around the Mahoning Valley and the state, raising money for the children in New York City.

Amy Leigh-Wilson, the publisher of Mahoning Valley Parent Magazine, said she hopes that local children also will contribute to the fund. The magazine helped sponsor Saturday's event.

Understanding: Leigh-Wilson also said she felt that the children who left their handprints on the canvas and donated to the fund were not too young to understand the effects of the attacks.

"Even the small children, they're much more perceptive than we give them credit for," she said. "When we tell them they're putting their hand out to children in need, I think they understand."

Martin said she videotaped recent news reports so she can explain the attacks to her grandson when he gets older.

"I definitely want him to know everything that's going on," she said.

hill@vindy.com




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