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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 11, 2006

Blagojevich Administration launches fourth annual Keep Our Kids Warm and Safe effort to provide child safety seats and winter clothing to those who need it

CHICAGO – With the kick off of the holiday season and lighting the James R. Thompson Center holiday tree, members of Governor Rod R. Blagojevich’s administration today launched the annual Keep Our Kids Warm and Safe giving campaign – an effort to collect winter clothing and car seats for children who need them the most.  The Governor’s Keep Our Kids Warm and Safe campaign was started in 2003 as an annual statewide clothing and car seat drive.  Citizens, businesses, and state employees can donate new or gently used gloves, mittens, hats, scarves and new car seats.  As they come in, donations are taken to charities in communities around the state.  These charities will then distribute the donations to needy families in their area. 
 
“During the holiday season, we want nothing more than for our families, friends and neighbors to be safe and healthy, yet there are many children who don’t have warm coats, hats or mittens to protect them from the cold,” said Gov. Blagojevich. “I encourage people throughout the state to help out their neighbors in need, and donate winter clothing that will help others get through the winter months.”
 
Citizens can donate clothing at state agencies located throughout the state. Last year’s effort netted more than one million clothing donations from thousands of state employees, private citizens and corporate sponsors for Hurricane Katrina victims and needy families across the state.  Learn where items can be donated by visiting www.il.gov/kidsafe.cfm.
 
This year, 21st Century again donated 100 brand new car seats to Keep Our Kids Warm & Safe.  Illinois State Police officers are educating parents and caregivers on how to use and install the seats, and distributing “Child Safety Seats: A Parent’s Guide” to explain proper seat installation and use. The guide, available in English or Spanish, can be obtained free of charge at safety fairs, by contacting the company’s corporate headquarters at 1-800-211-SAVE or by visiting 21st.com
 
Last year, the statewide partnership between Gov. Rod Blagojevich, the Illinois State Police, the Illinois Department of Transportation and 21st Century Insurance conducted more than 400 child safety seat inspections, resulting in more than 100 unsafe seats being destroyed.  Over the last three years, 21st has donated more than 1,800 brand-new safety seats to Illinois children.
 
“We save lives every time we hold one of these safety inspection fairs and every time a child safety seat is properly installed,” said Joyce Prager, Assistant Vice President, Community Relations, 21st Century Insurance. “Because of Gov. Blagojevich’s vision of the importance of child safety, 21st has created similar programs with other governors in four other states. Gov. Blagojevich was the first.”
 
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children from two to 14 years of age.  NHTSA data shows that 80 percent of child safety seats are improperly installed and are a potential source of injury for children, up from 73 percent in 2004.


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