News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

October 29, 2013

85 years: Doing it all for the children

League of Terre Haute women’s organization continues programs, fundraising for kids

TERRE HAUTE — For 85 years, the League of Terre Haute has been working to improve the lives of Vigo County children, currently through such projects as providing clothes and dental care for kids in need.

One of the biggest projects of the women’s organization, formed in 1928, is the Clothes Closet, first started by the Federation of Jewish Women in 1962. The League of Terre Haute adopted that as its project in 1990.

“We work with the Vigo County School Corporation to provide clothing to children who do not have adequate clothing for school. Those children are identified through school nurses at each school, kindergarten through the senior year of high school,” said Toshua Serrato, president of the League of Terre Haute.

“We provide the children with a week’s worth of clothing. Each clothing order comes with two pairs of jeans, two sweatshirts, two sweat pants, two long-sleeve shirts, two short-sleeve shirts, six pairs of underwear, six pairs of socks, hat, gloves and a winter jacket,” Serrato said.

To fund that project, the league will have a Cocktails & Comedy with Tim Cavanagh as the headliner at 7 p.m. on Nov. 9 at the Idle Creek Banquet Center. Comedian Mike Ostrowski will be the opening act.

Tickets, $40 each, can be ordered online at www.leagueofterrehaute.com or at its Facebook page, also leagueofterrehaute, or they can be purchased at the door.

In 1997, Cavanagh released his first CD — “Sounds like Fun!” — and had become a regular guest on “The Bob and Tom Show,” a nationally syndicated radio show now heard in 150 markets, including in Terre Haute. For two years, Cavanagh did a weekly segment called “The One Minute Song” and released two more CDs.

The League of Terre Haute hopes to raise $30,000 from the comedy event, Serrato said. “Clothes Closet is solely operated through The League of Terre Haute; we are the sole contributors to this program,” Serrato said.

Each order for a child costs at least $250, and the league provided clothing to 500 students last year, 506 in 2011 and 516 in 2010. Its biggest year was 2008-09, providing clothes to 547 students.

The league spends $35,000 to $40,000 annually to purchase the clothes. “Most of the money raised is spent in the stores here. Old Navy has provided additional discounts, so we spend our dollar and go a little further,” Serrato said.

The organization also provides dental education, last year distributing toothbrushes and tooth paste to 7,387 elementary school students in Vigo County.

“We also do a program for children in pain, for children who cannot afford emergency dental care such as fillings, extractions. We provide assistance to get them out of dental pain. We work with local dentists to accomplish that goal,” Serrato said.

The league has agreements with dentists who examine and treat children with dental pain, with the league paying for the office visit. The dentists also provide services at a discounted rate, Serrato said.

In 1957, the league had the nation’s first “dental trailer” which brought a dental office to schools. In 1989, the league ended the trailer, instead referring children to dentists.

Overall, the budget for the league is $65,000 a year.

The organization annually seeks grants for funding and corporate and individual contributions. The league has 34 volunteer members, Serrato said.

“A lot of people don’t really understand what the League of Terre Haute does anymore, but it is a program that many kids have come to rely on. It’s a program we can’t let go. We are needed. It is a huge need in the community,” Serrato said.

“These are the kind of kids who just do not have adequate clothing to go to school. Vigo County has … 28 percent of the county’s kids living under the poverty line, the second highest in the state of Indiana,” Serrato said.

“We have a lot of kids who need us, and this is what our comedy night is for; it’s how we function and how we provide this clothing,” Serrato said.

Get in touch

For more information or to contribute to The League of Terre Haute, visit the website at

www.leagueofterrehaute.com.

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