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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 1, 2004

Gov. Blagojevich kicks off Keep Our Kids Warm and Safe holiday campaign
Gov. Blagojevich pledges to help Illinois families in need as he lights the Holiday Tree in the Thompson Center

CHICAGO – In the spirit of the holiday season, Gov. Rod Blagojevich today kicked off this winter’s Keep Our Kids Warm and Safe campaign, an effort that will collect donations of winter clothing and car seats from state employees, local citizens and businesses for Illinois’ most needy children.  For the first time, all state agencies will be involved in the drive, competing to see who can generate the most donations. The winning agency will receive recognition and a plaque.  Corporate sponsors will also join the Governor’s effort by contributing thousands of hats, gloves, mittens, and car seats.  The Governor and his family launched this year’s campaign at the annual James R. Thompson Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony. 
 
“The holiday season is a time to reflect on our blessings, and to remember to help those who are less fortunate,” said Gov. Blagojevich. “I am here to encourage all the people of our state to donate warm clothing and other necessities for those who need some extra help this winter.”
 
The ongoing Keep Our Kids Warm and Safe campaign focuses on making child safety seats available to families who cannot afford them and providing new or gently used mittens, gloves, hats, and scarves to needy Illinois children.  To date, state agencies have collected almost 2,500 articles of winter clothing for this year’s holiday campaign, which will run through January 2005.
 
The Governor was joined by a number of corporate sponsors today, including Kohl’s department store, which has provided nearly 2,500 hats and gloves; 21st Century Insurance, which will conduct free safety seat inspections and donate 500 car seats; and US Bank, which has placed collection boxes at all Illinois branches and is making a generous donation of $12,000 toward the purchase of winter clothing.  At today’s tree lighting, the Governor passed along this year’s first donation to a local family.
 
Illinois citizens can donate clothing at the Illinois Department of Human Services and Illinois Department of Employment Security offices as well as all 113 branches of US Bank in Illinois. Throughout the holiday season, the collected items will be donated to local charities, which will distribute them to thousands of needy children across the state.
 
Gov. Blagojevich announced the start of the Keep Our Kids Warm and Safe campaign at last year’s Tree Lighting Ceremony.   This ongoing effort continued into May, when the Governor partnered with the Illinois State Police, the Illinois Department of Transportation, and 21st Century Insurance to launch a consumer safety program promoting child seat safety and compliance with Illinois’ car seat laws.  Together, they performed safety checks on old car seats and donated new car seats to needy families.
 
Gov. Blagojevich, accompanied by his wife Patti and his daughter Annie, remarked “This is a time for family, and a time to be thankful for what you have, but it’s also a time to help those who need it most.  I am gratified by the state employee reaction to this cause, and I hope the campaign will help even more people this year.”


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