Save the Children Distributes Shoes, Diapers; Deploys Child-Friendly Spaces to Children Who’ve Lost Everything in Tornadoes

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 29, 2011) — When children have to run for their lives, they don’t have time to put on their shoes, grab a favorite toy, or say goodbye to the place they called home. So as part of the Southeast tornado response, Save the Children has distributed truckloads of shoes, diapers, portable cribs, toys and other child-specific essentials to more than 1,100 children in hardest-hit Tuscaloosa, Ala., and Smithville, Miss.

“If a child’s security is one of the most fragile things in humanity, then our recovery efforts must restore that sense of security,” said Mark Shriver, Senior Vice President of Save the Children.

Additionally, Save the Children is working with the Gilmore Foundation to set up a Child-Friendly Spaces/emergency child care program for nearly 200 children in Smithville, Miss., where an EF-5 tornado — the highest severity-rating for tornadoes — demolished the entire community, leaving untold families homeless. Staff from Mississippi State University’s Early Childhood Institute who were previously trained in Save the Children’s Child-Friendly Spaces Program are staffing the program.

The Child-Friendly Spaces Program is one of Save the Children’s key emergency response programs. Save the Children provides indoor and outdoor play materials and a supervised area with structured activities where children can socialize, play and begin the recovery process with their peers. Child-Friendly Spaces allows parents an opportunity to rest or register for aid, and take care of their family business, knowing their children are protected.

Save the Children has deployed its disaster emergency unit to the hardest hit areas of northern Alabama and Mississippi to address the unmet needs of children following a disaster. The organization has requested a meeting with state officials and child care leaders to discuss emergency provisions that ensure children's safety, enable families to access child care, and help child care workers get back to work providing safe, secure places for children.

Members of the public who want to help can donate now to the Southern U.S. Tornado Children in Emergency Fund to support Save the Children's responses to ongoing and urgent needs as a result of the devastating tornadoes.