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WA Lawmakers Urged to “Have a Heart for Kids”

February 27, 2009

Olympia, WA - Parents and children’s advocates from around the state boarded buses before dawn today for a trip to Olympia. It’s Have a Heart for Kids Day at the legislature – an annual event bringing more than 400 people to the capitol to meet their state lawmakers and ask them to keep funding for children’s health, early learning, foster care, and after-school and school lunch programs.

Norma Gallegos is bringing a group of about 50 from the Head Start program in Wenatchee. She says one of the biggest concerns she sees this year is food.

"More than any other year, we see our families being more hungry – our children are hungry! The parents are laid off. We see the parents don’t have the money that they did before. We’re serving more food than ever, and we’re getting less support from the community, because everybody’s running out of money."

Gallegos began bringing local parents to this event ten years ago. At first, she says it was a tough sell – but now, she has a waiting list.

"The pride and the smile on those parents, coming back and saying, ‘I was there for my child.’ Children should feel like, ‘My family loves me. And my mom’s at the Capitol because she wants to make sure that money is given to children's programs – so we can be fed, so we can be in good childcare hands, so we can be healthy.'"

Gallegos says her group prepares for this day, making signs, learning about how government works, and talking with their kids about it. For some, it will be the first time they’ve been to the capitol. She will be among the speakers at a rally at 1:00 p.m. today on the capitol steps. The agenda for the day's events is online at < a href="http://www.childrensalliance.org">www.childrensalliance.org.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - WA