Some Crusade money comes back

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About half of Shelby money donated to the Crusade for Children comes back to the county.

By Josh Moore

Shelby County Public Schools have used money from the WHAS Crusade for Children organization for years to buy software, laptops, preschool equipment, handicap playground equipment and other various items to help special needs children in the county.

Duanne Puckett, community relations coordinator for the schools, though some might not understand the importance of providing a swing to a child, a handicapped child may never know what it feels like.

“That Crusade money has brought that thrill to the child,” she said.

And now the schools, along with the Dorman Preschool Center, have more Crusade money to put towards improving the lives of special needs children.

The Dorman Center and the schools learned this week that they will receive grants for $25,000 and $50,000, respectively, from the organization this year, Crusade accountant Debbie Billingsley said.

That means that of the $152,217.70 Shelbyville and Shelby County fire departments raised in early June for this year’s Crusade, about 50 cents of every dollar comes back to Shelby County.

One reason local firefighters participate in the Crusade for Children each year is that the money comes back home to Shelby County's children, Shelbyville Fire Chief Willard “Tiger” Tucker said.

“We see a tangible benefit to the money,” he said. “The money makes it back to Shelby County and the community.”

Robert Hughes, technology coordinator for special education, said money from the Crusade has been used by the schools to help motivate special-needs students to achieve in the classroom.

He said they've used the grants to buy laptops and software to help students who might be struggling to read and write.

The software can read the textbook to the student while other students are reading in class.

“It just helps them in the regular classroom; it helps them be a student,” Hughes said.

Puckett said the software helps students stay on task in the classroom and helps them feel successful.

The schools have received recognition for using the software and are part of a pilot research program with the University of Kentucky to study how it helps students, Hughes said.

Hughes said he surveys teachers and parents for ideas before he applies for grants each year.

Last year, Shelby County residents donated $162,077.18 through the fire departments. The Dorman Preschool Center received $40,000 and Shelby County Public Schools received $44,519.15, Billingsley said.

And though Shelby County’s charities don't see all the money residents donate, participants say residents also benefit from grants to places such as Kosair Children's Hospital and others in Louisville.

“Some of our own members have kids at Kosair's,” Tucker said.

Crusade for Children was established by WHAS in 1954 to help special-needs children across the state.

Billingsley said the organization sends grant applications to organizations that received grants the previous year, as well as any group that requests them.

An advisory panel of ministers meets with the organizations and determines how much each receives, she said.

Groups requested almost $11 million this year for the $5,289,841 that the Crusade had to give, Billingsley said.

There are very few groups that are rejected, and those that are usually don't meet the Crusade’s mission of helping special-needs children, she said.

Only two organizations apply from Shelby County, but they try to return donations to the community they came from, Billingsley said.

“We try to make sure most of the money goes back,” she said.