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Game show to help fight child abuse

 

JENNA-LEY HARRISON

Staff Writer

 

Come on down — being a contestant at Lincoln County’s version of the Price is Right could earn you prices and raise funds to help protect children against abuse.

“Strong families are our best defense against child abuse,” said Sherry Reinhardt, executive director for Lincoln County’s Coalition Against Child Abuse.

Reinhardt encourages area residents to attend this weekend’s sixth annual, family-friendly Price is Right fundraiser. “Lincoln County loves to ‘come on down,’ ” she said.

The event, modeled directly after television’s long-running “Price is Right” game show, draws in hundreds of residents each year and is centered on child abuse education and prevention.

“Our main focus is awareness,” Reinhardt said. “Everyone wants to prevent child abuse. There isn’t anyone who turns on TV every day or who reads a newspaper and doesn’t see how much this affects our nation.”

Price is Right is one of the LCCACA’s two annual fundraisers. Last year, the event drew in between $13,000 and $14,000; in 2009, it raised a record-setting $16,000, Reinhardt said.

The event will also feature a number of prominent community leaders dressed in drag as they play “Bob’s women,” Reinhardt said. “They do a flamboyant job,” she said.

In addition, there will be a silent auction with a number of enticing prize packages up for grabs including a family Disney vacation, beach trips, living room suites and a $6,000 dental package from Austin Orthodontics in Lincolnton.

Organization officials said fundraisers are crucial to the nonprofit organization’s existence, particularly because grants don’t provide for all needs.

“More people are bidding for their (grant providers’) dollars,” Reinhardt said. “Grants are harder to come by, so we have to do fundraising. It’s better to be safe than sorry if one of those sources gets cut off.”

She added that a majority of Coalition’s monetary needs are non-discretionary and that fundraising profits are often used to cover the cost of electrical and plumbing problems and children’s medical bills.

“There’s always something for a child that you can’t fathom,” Reinhardt said.

In addition, Coalition has had housing debt since moving into a new facility in August. The outstanding debt rests roughly around $70,000, Reinhardt said.

Officials have been noticing an increase in the number of Lincoln County children who are physically and sexually abused since at least 2010.

Of the thousands of cases reported annually to the Department of Social Services, a large chunk are deemed severe enough to be treated by the Coalition’s umbrella group, the Child Advocacy Center. In 2010, the CAC received 101 cases, while in 2011 that number increased to 188, Reinhardt said.

Although child abuse statistics have climbed in recent years, non-profit officials credit the high numbers to a more educated population that is more willing to report unacceptable behavior toward children.

“People are becoming better armed,” Reinhardt said, “and, in turn, children are being taken care of.”

She also noted that more children have learned to report incidents, even if they’re not certain abuse has occurred; they just “suspect” it, she said.

Since 1994, more than 20,000 American children have died at the hands of people they know, a majority of whom are their parents, Reinhardt added.

“That’s more than the number of U.S. soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq,” she said. “In an industrialized nation, it’s surprising that we (U.S.) have the highest numbers. It’s heart-wrenching.”

Starting in July, Coalition will offer group therapy classes for children and parents alike. The organization applied for a grant to hire an additional part-time therapist, Reinhardt said. In addition, the nonprofit organization is looking forward to teaching Internet safety classes.

This year’s Price is Right is set to start 7 p.m. Saturday at the Citizens Center in downtown Lincolnton. Doors open at 6 p.m. for pre-games. Tickets, which are $10 apiece and free for children 12 and under, will also be available at the door. For more information, call (704) 736-1155.

“If you’ve never been, you’re in for a treat,” Reinhardt said.

Lincoln County Coalition Against Child Abuse is located at 161 Policarp Road in Lincolnton.

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