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Five schools seeking Sparrow Club sponsors

In Jefferson County

   Students in up to five Jefferson County schools are eager to start Sparrow Clubs to help other kids with medical problems, but local club sponsors must first be found.
   Sparrow Clubs, which began in 1995, help children in medical crisis by pairing them with students who work on fund-raisers to earn $2,560 in "Sparrow cash" to help their "adopted" child and the child's family with medical expenses.
   A local sponsor donates $4,060 in seed money, then through projects the kids design themselves, they earn $10 for every hour of community service they do.
   Not only is the sick child helped, but the Sparrow Club members experience compassion, a sense of purpose, and empowerment in the kids-helping-kids project. Plus, the community benefits from the club's community service projects.
   According to Madras volunteer Tami Rask, Buff Elementary, Culver schools, Westside Elementary, Jefferson County Middle School and Madras High School have all expressed interest in forming Sparrow Clubs. But they first need project sponsors. She has been speaking to local service clubs and groups to help find area sponsors.
   "Currently, we have a sparrow (Kaegan Prevett) assigned to Buff Elementary and are processing another child that will be matched to one of your local schools," said Jennifer Anderson, regional director for Sparrow Clubs USA.
   Kaegan's mom works as an educational assistant at Buff Elementary, and his dad is an Oregon state Policeman.
   The other sparrows will be identified and matched with schools as sponsorships are secured. Children with illnesses are referred to Sparrow Clubs USA by hospitals and social workers.
   Nine-year-old McKayla Quinn, the daughter of Tricia and John Quinn of Culver, was age 5 when she was adopted as a sparrow because of her cerebral palsy. Her mother said the experience helped in many ways and was a very humbling experience for their family.
   "It was great to see how the kids wanted to put somebody else's needs ahead of their own. It was absolutely amazing to watch them. They were so content in helping and wanting to put a smile on my child's face," Tricia said.
   McKayla is now a third grader at Culver Elementary. "She loves school, loves her friends and likes to be a part of the action," her mother said.
   Now working as an educational assistant at Westside, Tricia is eager to see a Sparrow Club get started at the school to encourage other families.
   Sponsors are businesses, organizations or individuals who can donate $4,060 in seed money for a club. Benefits to corporate sponsors include having the business logo printed on service vouchers, recognition on a Sparrow video, Web site links and other advantages, in addition to encouraging community service by youth.
   Any group interested in being a sponsor can get more information by contacting Anderson at 410-4603.
   Year-end giving
   Sparrow Clubs USA is also facing a dilemma since its Dec. 4, breakfast fund-raiser, which usually raises $150,000 from end-of-the-year giving, had to be canceled at the last minute, due to problems with the facility.
   This leaves the Sparrow organization without operating funds for the coming year.
   Last year, Sparrow clubs raised over $500,000 for 143 families with children in medical crisis. In Central Oregon alone, schools helped 29 of those sparrows and students completed approximately 12,000 hours of community service.
   In terms of operations, however, the organization gets only a few opportunities annually to ask for help. "This could be a real setback for the organization. I know many people were planning to come to celebrate with us and to bless Sparrow Clubs with a year-end gift or pledge," said founder and executive director Jeff Leeland.
   People interested in donating to Sparrow Clubs USA may send checks to Sparrow Clubs USA, 906 N.E. Greenwood Avenue, Suite 2, Bend, OR 97701. For more information view the Web site www.sparrowclubs.org, call the office at 312-8630, or fax 312-8632.