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      YMCA is upping campaign goal for strong kids

      The Northern Lights YMCA in Escanaba recently kicked off its Strong Kids Campaign. This year they're upping the goal from last year's goal of $105,000. That's because they exceeded that goal. Officials say they're confident they can meet this year's goal of $115,000.

      The campaign offers financial assistance to adults, but mostly youth. Over 600 youth and a few hundred adults benefited from the Strong Kids Campaign last year. The YMCA offers opportunities for them to participate in various programs, classes, and even summer camp opportunities.

      About 60 volunteers, like Maria Maniaci, work hard to solicit donations. Officials say over $32,000 has already been raised through YMCA board, staff, and the preliminary campaign. That figure is about 27 percent of the total goal. But donations are more than monetary.

      Time is another way the YMCA seeks help. Maniaci volunteers in a swimming program for special needs children.

      ??The families have stated that because they have a special needs child,?? explains Maniaci, ??they were curtailed at family activities because of the swimming part. But now, that's not a curtailment anymore."

      She explains that volunteering can be very fulfilling and the benefits are widespread.

      ??To be able to come to the Y and help with a myriad of different areas of activities with the kids is one way of being vital to your community," Maniaci says.

      The campaign ends in March, and the YMCA is hoping more people sign up to help.

      ??If anyone wants to volunteer for the campaign,?? says Mary Gauthier, Fund Development Director, ??if they want to go out there and maybe ask for donations in person or possibly give a phone call, let the YMCA know. Call (906) 789-0005 for further information.