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High Sierra President L. Harrison (Hank) Bernbaum and DCFS Director Bryan Samuels demonstrate a sample backpack during Tuesday's press conference.

High Sierra Sport Company joins forces with DCFS to provide
book bags to over 500 youth in need

Vernon Hills, IL (September 15, 2004) - The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) and High Sierra Sport Company hosted a news conference to announce that High Sierra Sport Company, based in Vernon Hills, donated 500 back packs, duffle/gym bags, and luggage pieces to youth in state care. Currently, foster parents are given about $20 for items that are typically not covered by the monthly reimbursements that DCFS provides to meet the basic needs of children in its care. This leaves many foster parents grappling with how to finance incidental expenses such as back-to-school shopping and other events that are important in a child's life.

"From a holistic perspective, we would love to be in a position to meet every single need of the children in our care," said DCFS Director Bryan Samuels. "Fiscally that is impossible. Therefore, we are forced to make some tough decisions about how to best utilize our resources to ensure that the Department is preparing these kids for long-term success."

However, recognizing that items such as school supplies and the occasional new toy are also an intricate part of a child's growth experience, DCFS has begun reaching out to corporations, such as High Sierra Sport Company, to help expand its capacity to cover these "hidden" expenses. High Sierra and the Department are urging others to come forward to contribute in-kind and monetary donations for children in need.

The news conference was held at the High Sierra Sport Company headquarters, 880 Corporate Woods Parkway in Vernon Hills, IL. DCFS Director Bryan Samuels, High Sierra President L. Harrison (Hank) Bernbaum and D-29th District Senator Susan Garrett spoke at the event.

"We are very happy to work together with DCFS on this back-to-school project," said High Sierra President Hank Bernbaum. "We know that when children begin the school year prepared, they are more likely to have a productive school year."

High Sierra Sport Company was incorporated January 1, 1978 as H. Bernbaum Import & Export Company by Harry H. Bernbaum and his son, Hank. Its other sponsorship efforts include partnerships with the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team, Children's Memorial Foundation, Jimmie Huega Snow Express for Multiple Sclerosis, World Alpine Ski Championships, and the National Sports Center for the Disabled.

High Sierra's generous donation will be distributed to six DCFS regions. In addition, luggage will be sent to youth in college, youth scholarship recipients, and children at the Department's Emergency Reception Center who are waiting to be placed in foster care.

Promoting education as the key to success for children in state care continues to be a top priority for the Department. DCFS will continue to ensure that children in its care receive the appropriate interventions along the way, such as mentoring, tutoring, vocational training and support.

To make donations for children in state care, please contact the DCFS Springfield Communications Office at 217/785-1700.


Kim Broome
Illinois Department of Children and Family Services


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