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Ohio County Students Benefit From ‘Handle With Care’ Program

Photo Provided - Ohio County Schools just received donations for students in need as part of a collaboration with the United Way of the Upper Ohio Valley. United Way Executive Director Jessica Rine and Ohio County Schools Communications Coordinator Gabe Wells are shown with just some of those donations.

Three local entities have collaborated to benefit the students of Ohio County Schools.

Last year, the Ball Toyota dealership of Charleston donated $8,000 to the “Handle with Care” program, sponsored by the West Virginia Center for Children’s Justice. United Way of the Upper Ohio Valley Executive Director Jessica Rine was recently made aware that $4,000 of that donation was available for the needs of students in Ohio County Schools. Rine contacted Ohio County Schools Children Services Director Raquel McLeod and asked her to create a list of specific needs of the school system’s students.

“Children who have been identified through the ‘Handle with Care’ program are often students who have been placed in foster care,” Rine said. “They could have any number of needs. They may need clothes, backpacks or school supplies, and this is any effort to meet the needs of children who have just dealt with a difficult situation.”

McLeod thanked Ball Toyota for its contribution, and she also credited the West Virginia Center for Children’s Justice for implementing the “Handle with Care” program. She said she appreciates the school system’s collaboration with the United Way, and she also commended the counselors of Ohio County Schools for efficiently identifying the needs of Ohio County Schools students.

“Ohio County Schools are blessed to have strong partnerships with law enforcement and community agencies that focus on helping students in need,” McLeod said. “These partnerships help in serving the child as a whole with a focus on mental and emotional well-being.”

According to the West Virginia Center for Children’s Justice, and as part of the “Handle with Care” model, if a law enforcement officer encounters a child during a call, that child’s information is forwarded to the school before the school bell rings the next day. The school implements individual, class and whole school trauma-sensitive curricula so that children dealing with trauma are “Handled With Care.” If a child needs more intervention, on-site trauma-focused mental health care is available at the school.

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