"This is a great thing to provide for the mothers that don't have any help or opportunity … that is why we do it.  That is why we serve the public," said Motor Officer Allen Garland of the Dumas Police Department on Friday at a luncheon put on by Care Net Pregnancy Resource Center of Dumas to thank members of the Dumas Police Department, Dumas Fire Department, and Moore County Sheriff's Office for their help in raising $1,585.12 to help mothers in need with diapers, formula, and other necessary items to care for their babies. 

People going up to check out at cash registers around town may have noticed that most had a baby bottle by them filled with money.  For the last few years, police officers, sheriff's deputies, and fire fighters have been competing to see which agency could raise the most money to help Care Net help mothers.  They take the bottles marked with the symbol of their agency and place them at the businesses and offices of their choice.  At the end of the drive, Care Net personnel collect the bottles, count the money, and declare first, second, and third place winners.  This year, the fire department won first, raising $801.29.  The police came in second with $515.84, while the deputies came in third with $267.99.  "We want to thank you guys for that," said Monica Sullivan, Care Net Executive Director as she announced the winners.

Care Net Chairman of the Board Jim Elzner added," From the bottom of our hearts, we appreciate everything."

While the police officers, deputies, and fire fighters came away from the  competition with plaques, bragging rights, and a lunch, the big winners were the mothers.   According to Sullivan, there is a lot of need in Moore County.  Since January, the agency has had more than 2000 visits from women needing pregnancy tests, parenting classes, and other help caring for newborn and older babies.  "A mom walked across town, because she didn't have formula.  Her boyfriend left and took everything.  She didn't have anything, so we helped her with formula until she got paid," said Sullivan Friday.  Care Net gives baby showers to mothers who never had one and maintains a "baby store" stocked with baby-care necessities for mothers who find themselves in a financially desperate situation.  Babies don't get to choose the circumstances of their birth.  Sullivan added that mothers generally are required to take parenting classes in return for help.  By completing the classes, they also receive "baby bucks" that can be used to purchase more expensive items, such as cribs and car seats.  She said the Dumas agency had more people completing parenting classes than any other agency in Texas.

For all parents, the Dumas Fire Department has certified experts in the installation of car seats in vehicles.  According to Chief Ronald Pray, department personnel are happy to help any parent install a seat correctly free of charge.  Contact the fire department at 935-6434.

Pray summed up the fund raising drive, "It is always a great competition between the fire department and police department and sheriff's office, but ultimately we are helping young mothers in the community, making sure they have the tools they need to raise their babies and make sure they are healthy. For us it is kind of a friendly competition, anything we can do to support the community, we are all behind." 

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