DOBSON — The Surry County Child Protective Services Team is offering support to help keep residents safe from carbon monoxide poisoning and to comfort the homeless.
“Everyone is predicting that it’s going to be a bad winter,” said Amanda Dolinger, who works in the state department of public safety. “Social workers with local agencies are reporting that we will be seeing more families without proper heating sources.”
Dolinger, who is the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, Division of Juvenile Justice Court counselor supervisor, characterized the protective services team as a team of 15 professionals from a variety of local agencies that identifies needs and coordinates stop gap, short-term measures to fill in the gaps.
“There is not enough financial help out there to meet the fuel bill needs of these families,” added Dolinger, who said she knows of instances in which families use a charcoal stove for heating. “We are seeing families that have the option to use a kerosene stove or freezer. Our approach is if you have to use potentially dangerous heaters, make yourself a little safer with a carbon monoxide detector that is installed in the home.
“We are seeing a lot of families that do not have the means to afford a carbon monoxide detector,” said Dolinger. “We are hoping to approach local fire departments for their support to get them to help install the detectors for these families.”
The need for such was brought home tragically when two Elkin children, a 7-year-old and an 8-year-old, died as a result of carbon monoxide build up in their home.
Dolinger said the Mount Airy Fire Department already is providing detectors. The protective services team also is accepting donations of batteries and carbon monoxide detectors for needy families. Dolinger said a drop-off center for these items has been set up at the Reece Building in Dobson. She said the Surry County School system has volunteered the use of the building as a central location for the initiative. Persons may drop off detectors or batteries at the building Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
She said another need that has been identified by the protective services is extending some comfort to the homeless.
“There is a homeless issue in Surry County,” explained Dolinger. “They are not sleeping on the streets or under bridges. A lot of what we are seeing now is many sleeping on someone’s floor in the clothes that are on their backs. This really impacts the children. When mom and dad lose their jobs, they lose the kids when the children go to live with someone else with limited resources.”
A short-term solution offered by the team is to provide blankets for the homeless. Several sites have been established as pick-up or drop-off zones for blankets. Dolinger said that no questions will be asked for persons asking for adult or baby blankets at the sites.
Dolinger said drop boxes for gently used or new blankets have been set up at Pilot Mountain Outreach Center on Old Highway 52. Other sites include the Easter Seals office and in Mount Airy on Lebanon Street, The Salvation Army in Mount Airy and at TriCounty Christian Crisis Ministries in Elkin. Health professionals will provide those going to TriCounty with special strips they will turn in there for blankets.
She said already many faith-based organizations have staged events to benefit the homeless. She said the First Baptist Church in Pilot Mountain’s youth group has collected and made blankets for a recent drive. Dolinger said Cornerstone Baptist Church women also have sponsored a blanket drive.
“The faith-based community has picked up the torch on this in our area,” said Dolinger. She said the Dobson First Baptist Church has agreed to clean gently used blankets being donated for the homeless.
The child protection team is a state mandated group. Dolinger said every community has to have one of these teams that is composed of agency, business and community members.
“We try very hard to identify the gaps,” said Dolinger. “We’ll do what we can until we can do more. We are all professional persons that see no point in doing nothing.”
Reach David Broyles at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1952.