3RD ANNUAL ESSENTIALS FOR YOUNG LIVES DRIVE UNITES COMMUNITY TO HELP HOMELESS MOTHERS AND THEIR CHILDREN

Kick-Off Saturday, April 24, 2010 at Irvine Spectrum Center®

IRVINE, Calif. (April 13, 2010) – The 3rd annual Essentials for Young Lives drive kicks off Saturday, April 24 in honor of Mother’s Day, at the Irvine Spectrum Center®.

Essentials for Young Lives is a community-wide effort to collect “essential” baby items for homeless mothers and their infants, sponsored by HomeAid Orange County in partnership with the Children and Families Commission of OrangeCounty and the YMCA of Orange County. The public is invited to bring donations of diapers, baby wipes, baby food and baby hygiene products to the Giant Wheel Court from 1pm to 4pm. Donations will be delivered to 16 of HomeAid’s service provider partners that give aid and shelter to homeless families.

To make the afternoon a fun event for the family, the YMCA of Orange County will host an arts and crafts table for children, and everyone who donates an “essential” baby item is entered into an opportunity drawing to win one annual YMCA membership.

Since diapers are the most needed items, Wahoo’s Fish Taco will give a free taco coupon to each of the first 200 people to donate a box of diapers.

More than 40 companies, community organizations and churches throughout Orange County have volunteered to serve as donations sites for the 2010 Essentials for Young Lives drive through Thursday, April 27. The list of public donation drop-off sites is available online at http://essentialsforyounglives.blogspot.com.

“Homeless mothers and their young children are among Orange County’s most vulnerable residents, and the state’s worsened economic condition has stretched the safety net,” said Michael Ruane, the Executive Director of the Children and Families Commission of Orange County. “Ensuring babies and toddlers have the proper nutrition and basic necessities goes to the Commission’s core purposes. Essentials for Young Lives brings out the best in our community for the sake of the most vulnerable.”

Essentials for Young Lives was first launched in OrangeCounty in 2008 and since then more than 250,000 essential baby items have been distributed to homeless mothers and their infants. As the growth in homeless families increases the demand for homeless services, the need for essential baby items continues to grow.

“Babies needs can’t wait. Hunger? Diaper needs? They need to be addressed immediately. Essentials for Young Lives provides donations that can ease the parent’s anxiety as they work to get their lives together. Participating in Essentials for Young Lives is so important to help bridge a mom and her baby to self-sufficiency,” said Margie Wakeham, Families Forward Executive Director.

About HomeAid Orange County

HomeAid Orange County is the founding chapter of a national non-profit organization with the mission to build and maintain dignified housing where homeless families and individuals can rebuild their lives. Founded in1989 by the Orange County Chapter of the Building Industry Association of Southern California, HomeAid acts as the housing developer and liaison between service providers, community volunteers, builders and specialty contractors. To date the organization has completed 46 housing developments that serve victims of domestic violence, pregnant homeless women, abused and abandoned children, homeless adults living with HIV/AIDS and homeless families. www.homeaidoc.org

About Children and Families Commission of OrangeCounty

The Children and Families Commission of Orange County oversees the allocation of funds from Proposition 10, which added a 50-cent tax on tobacco products sold in California. Funds help pay for education, health care and child development programs for children from the prenatal stage to age five and their families. The Commission’s goal is to ensure all children are healthy and ready to learn when they enter school. Programs supported by the Commission include shelter projects and services for children and families because children learn better when they have stable housing. For additional information visit: www.occhildrenandfamilies.com