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Tri-town interfaith project expects tough spring

SHELBURNE-The current economic crisis was on everyone's mind as the members of the board of directors of Shelburne Charlotte Hinesburg Interfaith Projects (SCHIP) considered 18 requests for grants from the fund created through the sale of good used clothing and homegoods.

SCHIP received requests for over $30,000 in grants in time for the Jan. 30 deadline, but concern about harder times to come influenced them to judge carefully and exercise caution. Board chair Patricia Nestork of Charlotte summed up the concern of the 20-person board saying, "We're being careful. We're anticipating a hard spring."

Grants were made for a total of $21,450, some to organizations or agencies that provide service to residents of all three towns of Shelburne, Charlotte and Hinesburg, such as the Home to School Outreach program at Champlain Valley Union High School, and some to local food shelves and pastors' discretionary funds.

Among the projects that received support from SCHIP in the first of three grant cycles for 2009 were nursery school tuition assistance for economically disadvantaged families, summer camp scholarships for needy youngsters, funds to pay for food for a summer camp that provides meals and recreational activities for K-8 children who would qualify for free or reduced lunch during the school year, a training program for foster and adoptive families, a sewing project that makes useful items for the elderly and handicapped, a knitting project that makes shawls and lap robes, and a team building end-of-year activity for a mentoring program. Size of grants ranged from $500 to $2,500.

Before the current round of grant making, SCHIP had given a total of almost $150,000 since they first began making grants in April 2005. The mission of SCHIP, which was formed in 2003 by ten faith communities in the three towns, is to work together to raise funds for grants to improve the lives of neighbors and strengthen the communities. Funds are raised through the operation of SCHIP's Treasure Resale Shop in Shelburne Village where donated good used clothing and household items are sold. The shop is operated by a small paid staff and many volunteers.

The next grant deadline will be the last day of May. Grant information and forms can be picked up at SCHIP's Treasure Resale Shop, 5404 Shelburne Rd. in Shelburne, or at the offices of the town clerks in Shelburne, Charlotte and Hinesburg.

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