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Children on assistance eligible for $200 in back-to-school aid

Local children receiving food stamps or cash welfare benefits are going to receive an extra $200 from the state to help with back to school expenses.

Genesee County is receiving $345,800 for the program through the state as part of the federal economic stimulus program.

As many as 1,700 local children will be eligible, Social Services Commissioner Eileen Kirkpatrick told WBTA (listen).

Assemblyman Steve Hawley expressed concern about the program, telling WBTA that there are no restrictions on the handouts and that, for example, a family with five children will get $1,000 and mom or dad will be able to do with that money whatever they please.

Eligible families will start receiving the school credit as early as today in electronic deposits.

Gabor Deutsch
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Who in their right mind thought of this and passed it ?
Karen Miconi
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I dont know Gabor, but Im happy for the kids themselves. Hopefully the parents will be made to spend the money on their kids and not themselves. Acceptance in school can be very emotionally hard for young kids who's parents are poor. They come to school in rags, and are made fun of all their lives. This sets the stage for a lifetime of self confidence issues. Not all families can afford to dress their kids to the hilt. After all, thats not what its about. I personally think the school systems should mandate uniforms, so that their minds aren't on what their wearing, and if it matches their cell phones, but on their studies. Hopefully the families that recieve this money will go to the store and buy their kids school supplies, shoes that fit and clothes that they can feel good about wearing. Good For Them!!
Gabor Deutsch
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Okay karen, The checks are written in the kids names and the money will be spent buying items they need for school. HAhahahah. I know better.
Karen Miconi
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No, but we can only hope for the best. Maybe Steve could add a stipulation of some sort to guarentee that the kids actually see the money. I dont know, but what i do know is that it will make alot of innocent kids, happy to go back to school. For me thats what really matters.
Bea McManis
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They can do like they do for minor children who have lost a parent. I believe that an accounting is done at the end of year as to where the money went and receipts are checked.
Sean Valdes
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OK, this hit a nerve. It always makes me happy to see happy kids - I think that can be said for almost everyone. I also hope that this $200 helps them to have a more enjoyable school year. However, who in their right minds would give unrestricted money to people who already are unable to support themselves? At the very least with food stamps, WIC, HEAP, HUD, Medicaid, etc. - we can make sure that public supported families get what they NEED (as opposed to want.) Parents should be forced to go without something if their children need school clothes. Maybe you have cancel the trip to the Rez, you can't order WWE Super Best Ever Smackdown vs. Raw Wrestling PPV this month, or heaven help us - maybe you'll have to stay home and cook a few nights a week instead of going out. (This from a restaurant owner.) There is NO ONE in this county or any other county that can't curb expenses to help their children have school supplies. Even more appalling is the fact that a recipient of this money can use the ever powerful "Benefit Card" at a freakin' ATM machine to get their money. NO! NO! NO! If they need that money so badly - so junior can have a school shirt, then they should trek themselves to County Bldg. #18 and wait in line for a voucher to a Genesee County store that sells junior's shirts, ripped pants, goth spiked wrist bands or anything else that makes junior feel accepted in school. :) I imagine a day, someday, when we teach children that you sacrifice for your family - that you go without - that having kids is hard. Maybe then junior wouldn't knock up his classmate and start this whole process all over again. :)
bud prevost
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The county is just taking cue from the federal government. Remember the TARP money? Yeah, apparently, it's fashionable to hand out money to irresponsible people with no want or care to track said funds! Governor Dave, you should run for president, you're so damn smart! Now I know why welfare budget increased 10%. Whatever, this state is making it easier and easier to make what I thought would be a hard decision...we are re-locating somewhere in one of the other 47 lower states. As much as I love the town I live in, and as much as I want my son to grow up here, and play football on friday nights, I can't take the dysfunction anymore! Why is this OK? Why are we giving tax $ to people who do not have to account for it?? It's a shame the way the government spends money. If our government was a business/corporation, they's have gone out of business years ago.Or worse, been indicted for being shady in their business practices. This is a bad idea. Helping children is not a bad idea, but it has to be done more efficiently.
James Renfrew
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First of all, what people receive for basic public assistance is laughable. The last I heard, the basic amount has not been increased by the state in a very, very long time. I challenge any you of in general, and Mr Hawley in particular, to try living for six months on public assistance. Anyone I have known receiving these benefits has very little discretionary income - if any - for things other than basic necessities. There is very little left for personal hygiene items ... or school supplies. I know some of you will share anecdotes about the people you see buying cigarettes, cable TV, cell phones, beer and lottery tickets, etc. All I ask is that you try living for one month on the basic benefit. Second (and this is my anecdotal material, I suppose), on a professional basis I have been involved with many,many low income people in a variety of situations relating to poverty, job loss, health crisis, mental health, addiction, etc. I can think of only a hand-full who ever expressed any glee to me about reciving public assistance. The whole process is often very time-consuming, demeaning and obviously meant to discourage people from applying. (Don't get me wrong, I am not critiquing individual social workers, many of whom have hearts of gold, it's the system that is designed this way.) Who would willingly subject themselves to this? I challenge all of you, and Mr Hawley in particular, to spend a day at the Social Services office of your choice. Chat with the people who are there and listen to their stories. Even if you are not in need of assistance, I encourage you to spend the time filling out the set of forms that is required. Be sure to bring lots of supporting documents (pay stubs, rental receipts, work history, medical reports, social security numbers, phone numbers), but know that you will invariably forget to bring one of them and you'll need to return on another day. Be sure to arrive no later than 8:00 AM because if you arrive any later than that may be told that you'll need to return on another day. No transportation available at 8:00 AM? Well, get up extra early or ride your bike. At the Orleans County Social Services office you might want to bring your own chair, unless you enjoy standing in that claustrophobic little waiting room for several hours. They don't like having you stand in the hall, either. Keep in the mind that the overall atmosphere in many of these offices is not a cheerful "how can we help you", but an unstated "our assumption is that you're lying". Again, this is not the workers behind the glass window, it's the way the whole thing is set up. Third, this thread is mostly about children. It always amazes the people I bring to volunteer at soup kitchens as to how many families with children there are. The stereotype is male drug addicts and drunks hitting bottom. I encourage you to have a conversation with the new Director of the Salvation Army office in Batavia, or the Director of Genesee Orleans Ministry of Concern in Albion. Ask them how many children they see, how many are in need, etc. As far as I know, children don't often have the opportunity to choose who their parents will be, and whatever bad choices, disabilities, diseases, or addictions their parents have should not taken out on children. Better yet, volunteer to help at our food shelf at the Salvation Army, and learn more about the people who are being served. Ask them about their children, and their hopes and fears. Maybe you'll find some common ground? I hope so. In any event, if you have advice about how these people ought to be living their lives, here's your chance to test out your ideas. Most of us live in rural communities between Buffalo and Rochester. There is poverty here. It is more invisible than many places. It is growing.
bud prevost
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Howard- taxes are taxes. And the county is the dispensary, so they should know where it's going and how it's being spent. President Obama can call all these programs "stimulus", I see them as bankrupting our future.
Sean Valdes
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James - you are a kind hearted soul, with much compassion. I'm not being sarcastic - I'm serious. You view the situation much differently than I do. I am very involved with many people that are on public assistance - I won't go into much detail since their privacy is important. However, they blow a lot of money on things they really don't need. It's almost as if they really don't know how to cut back on luxuries. Concerning the system - I would argue that the system doesn't place enough scorn and embarrassment on the people applying for social services. Public assistance, in my mind, should be the last possible place you go, and it should be frowned upon so much that people will hurry to get off of public assistance - not accept it as a way of life. Concerning the children - I get to talk with a lot of senior citizens (and I really do me A LOT). They tell me stories of their childhood, the clothes they made out of sacks (literally), the chores, the abuse, etc. - and now we call them the Greatest Generation. Maybe our kids and families need to go through some tougher times to toughen us up? Just a thought. P.S. - I love this site! I think the exchange of ideas it produces is just awesome.
Mark Potwora
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I guess when you play by the rules ,Drive a car that gets more than 18 mpg,pay your mortgage on time and don't default on something you agreed to pay,You get no stimulus money..But have kids you can't afford,buy cars that get bad gas mileage,and don't pay you bills you get all kinds of Obama dollars..And why paint the program as money for parents to buy school supplies..Just say here on top of everything else we give you ,here's 200 per child more..It can be used for anything you want,seems like total BS...
debbie toal
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I agree with you Gabor. Is anyone helping raise my kids? I feel as though I am getting penalized for going to work every day. No one hands my husband and I extra money to buy our kids new school clothes. Years ago I was on public assistance in the great state of New York. I wanted to work, but I had two young children and was told by the Department of Social Services it would be more economical for me to stay home and receive public assistance. Well, I did just that. I received $1,000 a month in cash from SSI just because my child had asthma. Then, on top of that I received cash to pay my rent, pay the electric bill and enough food stamps to last all month. Don't forget the free heath and dental insurance I had! And, I never had to worry about getting up in the morning and going to work. And, I forgot to mention I have a college education and I did milk the system. I even had a car and the taxpayers helped me fill the tank so I could drive my kids around. At that time my kids had every toy and were well dressed. All I had to do was fill out paperwork once a year to remain on the system. Then I got married and got off assistance. And, here I am 13 years later and can not stand going to the grocery store and seeing people whip out their public assistance benefit card to buy name brand groceries. I am using coupons and buying the store brand. I now live in South Carolina and my children go to high school with children that are on public assistance. These children have their own cars and have all the latest fashions. After they graduate I'm sure they will get a free ride to college while we will have to take out student loans because my husband and I go to work every day. So, please don't feel too sorry for the people on assistance they know exactly what they are doing. I don't see too many of them getting off assistance and going to work every day. All I ever hear is about how their benefits should increase because the price of food is rising. Well, I asked my employer to up my pay and he just laughed at me. I could always go get a second job....
Tammy Way
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Instead of just handing out cash , they should of had cards like debit cards but that only accepted purchases for clothing or paper and pens and folders , sort of like they do for food stamps where you only can purchase certain things on it. With the drugs and drinking problems faced by so many people I know some kids will not see that money for school. I hadn't heard of any type of keeping reciepts or accounting for what you purchased. Good idea but poor management!!!
Jeanne Stack
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How about the fact that the children receiving the $200 for school supplies don't even have to be old enough for school? I know this to be true because I know someone who has already received this money for 2 children under the age of 3.
bud prevost
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Jim, I concur with Sean, you are a good, compassionate soul. Good thing you got into your line of work! While I have no doubt you have seen the ugly side of public assistance, I have spent time at the DSS office on E Main. Whether to drop off paperwork for Tammy's daycare, attending classes for adoption, or just helping someone that needs a ride, I have seen enough to justify my opinion. While I am sure some folks need help as they are down on their luck, I can tell you there are an equal number who are abusing the system, and getting what they feel they are "entitled" to. And just to clarify...the idea of helping children is obviously not wrong, but the method of payment is. GOVERNMENT IS NOT OUR NANNY, NOR ARE WE THE GOVERNMENT'S CHILDREN!
leslie rickson
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I don't get this...I am a single mother and I have a full time job. I support my son on my own with no help from anyone. I struggle all the time just to put food on the table for him and a roof over our heads. I did apply for food stamps and they told me I make too much money but I see people in the store using food stamps that have better clothes on than me. I think they should help the people that "make too much money" instead of helping the ones they already help. Besides how many of the kids that are suppose to receive the money will really see every dime of it? The parents will spend it on other things that they want and not what the child needs.
Bea McManis
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Posted by Jeanne Stack on August 12, 2009 - 12:19am How about the fact that the children receiving the $200 for school supplies don't even have to be old enough for school? I know this to be true because I know someone who has already received this money for 2 children under the age of 3. The article read: "Genesee County IS receiving $345,800 for the program through the state as part of the federal economic stimulus program. As many as 1,700 local children WILL BE eligible, Social Services Commissioner Eileen Kirkpatrick told WBTA (listen)." You know people who already received this money? The article read that Genesee County IS receiving the money, not that they have distributed it. It also states that as many as 1700 local children WILL BE eligible, not that they have received it. Is the news article outdated? Has the money been distributed?
John Roach
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This will be a mess. Some people will spend the money on their kids for school supplies and clothes. Others will use it to pay bills. Some will use to take the kids out. Others will just waste it. There is no plan to monitor the money, it's just a feel good give away
Jeanne Stack
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Bea- The article did state that people would receive the money as early as today, and today is the day the person I know received it. Howard- As for the D & C stating children age 3 to 17, the person I know has a 2 year old and a 5 month old. Don't get me wrong- I am all for the children, being a parent myself, but I think that not enough thought went into this before distributing all the money.
Betsy Riexinger
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I don't understand why they can't do some of these programs like WIC. They should get vouchers with the allowed items printed on them. How many children do you know that are under the age of 5 that go to school? (Except for the ones in Headstart and special programs?) I agree this whole idea was not thought out.........
Bea McManis
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$200 for school clothes and supplies won't go far. I'm not defending or opposing the plan. Hopefully the parents will put the money to good use. I may be looking at our neighbors through rose colored glasses, but I can't lump them all as a group of lazy good for nothings who will take the money and deny their children basic 'back to school' supplies and clothes. When my children were in school, we were both working. Obviously we wouldn't qualify for this windfall. That said, I can't imagine myself saying that those who needed help be demeaned in the manner suggested by some on this board. Whatever happened to the old adage, "..but for the grace of God go I"? Hard times can happen to anyone. The fall may be gradual or it may hit like a ton of bricks. To suggest that assistance be made more difficult and more demeaning that people would not ask for help is cruel and inhumane.
Sean Valdes
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Good Morning Bea, You're right, hard times can fall on anyone. And there are many institutions that are not government run that can help them. Salvation Army, GOMOC, churches, family members, etc. It seems that we automatically expect the government to help us instead of these other institutions. I'm 100% in favor donating to a church to a help a family because that's my choice, but I'm not keen on being forced to help by way of public assistance. Asking the government to help should be the absolute last resort. I'm 31 years old, and I'm told of older people that had to apply for welfare when they had a young family- but only for 3-4 months, and they were ashamed and embarrassed. That's the way it should be. We make it to easy for people to collect - give them a handy dandy little card so the people behind them in the grocery store can't tell their using food stamps, let them check their balances on-line or by phone to be more discreet and offer more "easy renewal" applications for people that need extensions. It seems as though we accept the premise of public assistance, and I believe that is wrong.
Kelly Hansen
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There are several community organizations who would be more than willing to help collect and distribute donated school supplies - if a real need was made known. If people are told of a particular need, donations of school items would pour in. At the very least, since government likes government, it is something that Community Action Committee could do. If they can distribute windows, refrigerators and food to those receiving assistance, certainly they could distribute school supplies as well. Handing a debit card to someone on public assistance who has a three-year old child is not providing back to school assistance. The entitlement mentality must come to an end or our nation as we know it will be naught. Perhaps that is the goal. You cannot help someone by keeping them down and dependent upon a government for another upcoming handout. In the early 1990s I worked for a local non-profit program which serves those with income below the poverty line. I was paid minimum wage with a B.S. degree and when I made home visits, they had more than I did in my home - and they always had their cable tv (which we were unable to afford at the time). The kids may have been barefoot in the winter, but parents always had their cartons of cigarettes. Giving them $200 to spend as they see fit as a 'back to school' allowance? Absurd. Take the money, place it in the back of a truck with the tailgate down and drive at high speed down the Thruway. Look at successful programs like the Backpack Club in LeRoy. Folks in area churches donate snack items and volunteers stuff backpacks with the food for kids in need to take home from school over a weekend. People will step up and help neighbors IF they are asked to lend a hand. We are in the midst of back to school items and we spread the purchases out over several weeks until we have everything. Perhaps those on assistance can do the same thing. Maybe?
Bea McManis
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Posted by Sean Valdes on August 12, 2009 - 8:48am I'm 31 years old, and I'm told of older people that had to apply for welfare when they had a young family- but only for 3-4 months, and they were ashamed and embarrassed. That's the way it should be. I am a senior citizen, living in subsidized housing. I guess that makes me one of those who should be 'ashamed and embarrassed' because 'that is the way it should be'! One of the most important traits a person needs is dignity. Implying that anyone who is in need, regardless of where they must go to get it, should wear sack cloth and ashes and a sign around their neck labeling them as a loser just hits the wrong chord with me. I agree the program could have been handled differently to insure that it is spent on the children. However, that isn't the issue with many on this site. The issue is to proclaim anyone in need deserves scorn and abuse.
Kelly Hansen
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Hi Bea, Subsidized housing for seniors who have made their contribution to society and handing over a chunk of cash to someone with a child are apples and oranges. I agree with you: it should have been handled differently to assure that the children are the beneficiaries. Those with a definite need should receive assistance long enough to get on their own feet. Giving cash willy-nilly is not the way to go about solving poverty. Kelly
Susan Kennelly
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They can do like they do for minor children who have lost a parent. I believe that an accounting is done at the end of year as to where the money went and receipts are checked. I agree they should have figured out a way to track this or maybe gave the money directly to schools and had them provide the supplies to the kids that need it.
Susan Kennelly
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(Local children receiving food stamps or cash welfare benefits are going to receive an extra $200 from the state to help with back to school expenses.) Not to be nasty or anything but I can see this being a good idea gone bad. I wish it would be sent to these people in voucher form or as a credit with stipulations that it can only be used on the child for school stuff. I can see this money being pissed away on other stuff instead.
Peter O'Brien
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I said temporary is fine... I feel shame every time I take an unemployment payment. I should be able to provide for myself. I worked to create more wealth for myself. I am working 2 jobs. I just lost my 3rd income stream and that doesn't count what Chelsea earns. Still its not enough when my company has a shutdown. I understand it happens but I do my best to try and prevent that lose of income. That is the only reason I still have the job. But I continue to feel shame when I take from others. Just think, if there were less people taking you wouldn't have to pay as much to begin with and you could spend more and create more jobs further reducing the number of looters.
Jason Juliano
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WOW! Where to begin... One of the things that used to make this country great is that HARD WORK and RESPONSIBILITY were rewarded with success. I certainly understand there are people with LEGITIMATE disadvantages or disabilities that need and deserve help - and they SHOULD receive it. But to give free handouts (or should I say bribe money for votes) is absolutely ABSURD. It offends me as a tax-payer and as an American. In this country, the land of opportunity, POOR IS A CHOICE!!! Being broke is not. Anyone and everyone can wind up broke for one reason or another. Financial set backs such as loosing a job, illness, etc can cause someone to be broke temporarily. But people that legitimately work hard and sacrifice claw their way out of being broke. POOR, however, is clearly a CHOICE. It's a CHOICE to "buy" an oversized flat screen TV at rent-a-center financed for 84 months at $12 per week. Its a CHOICE to go out and buy an new car, with FREE MONEY FROM OBAMA, financed with payments you can barely afford instead of getting buy with the car you have. Making bad CHOICES means its harder to afford school supplies and clothes for your kids. But to pin that responsibility on the taxpayers for someone elses BAD CHOICES! SHAME!!!
Susan Kennelly
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In a way I agree with you. I babysat my grandchildren before my knee surgery to get money for gas and extras. If I didnt have the money. I stayed home or went without, because I agree with you to the point if you dont have the money you dont need it. BUT still I dont feel ashamed for getting a little help. I have totally paid my dues. I raised my kids and 4 others, never got help from anyone. My husband was disabled and I worked 2 full time jobs. Plenty of times I took on part time work or side jobs to pay for christmas or back to school or extras. I am just about recovered and I'll be looking for another job. I hate being home I'm not one to sit around and do nothing. Actually it's almost nice to hear someone your age say ..I worked 2 and 3 jobs. I mentioned for my 26 year old married son that maybe getting another job would help with expenses and he said. "what? I won't have time for fun!" LOL Welcome to "real life"
Peter O'Brien
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I make time for fun and the third income stream was renting a room to a Muckdog, not really work. Once the season ends (because we might get a call up) I am going to offer that room to a GCC student. Luckily for me when I am not losing 2 months of income a year, my main job is enough for me. When/if the economy recovers I won't have to work so often. You, Susan, are not the type of person who is a burden for the rest of society.
Thomas Wommack
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My guess is since there is no accountability that the money will support the state by way of the slot machines at Batavia Downs. Some parents are honest and trustworthy so the money will be used to benefit the kids as expected. The vast majority of the money I suspect will end up for other purposes. I like the idea that someone had about issuing a card that allowed restrictions on what could be bought. It would probably be a logistical nightmare to manage that.
Peter O'Brien
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Anyone surprised by this story? http://rochester.ynn.com/content/top_stories/479767/brooks-says-back-to-...
During a news conference Brooks said the county had turned up evidence the money was being used to buy flat screen TVs, cell phones, gaming systems and other luxury supplies – not back to school items. Brooks says retailers like Walmart, Wegmans and Tops notified the county of this activity soon after the money was distributed. Brooks says she’s disturbed but not surprised. “When you hand out $200 per child cash to a family with no strings attached, no requirements for spending it are we really surprised that people are buying flat screen TVs, iPods, Xboxes,” asked Brooks.
Karen Miconi
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Not suprized at all Peter. Like I said, this should have been planned out a little better than it was. Maybe they should have issued a store card, only to be used for school supplies. Its a little too late now. SHAME ON YOU, PARENTS THAT USED YOUR KIDS MONEY FOR YOURSELVES!!!! I Hope you feel good about ripping off your children...
Bea McManis
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Channel 2 had a piece on this last night. They have a program that distributes back packs filled with school supplies through the Boys and Girls Club. They made a point of saying that this goes to families NOT on public assistance but need help supplying kids for school. Also, they are expanding their effort to include those, in Gowanda, hit hard by the flooding.
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