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KidSpree Benefit Concert

Last year's school year has drawn to a close, but the volunteers and staff at KidSpree have been gearing up for the next school year for some time now.

The nonprofit community organization has its eyes on children whose families cannot afford to purchase many of the items they will need once they head back to their classrooms. KidSpree helps those children purchase back-to-school clothing.

A fundraiser for the project, KidSpree Benefit Concert, is planned from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday, June 28, at Kids Unlimited, 821 N. Riverside Ave., Medford. The event will feature classic rock and jazz music for dancing provided by the Rogue Suspects, Pyramid and Musician's Friend All Stars. No alcohol will be served at the event.

KidSpree provides children in the program with a $100 credit to purchase back-to-school clothing.

"This is our first time with a benefit concert," said Kathy Hollenbach, KidSpree Steering Committee member. "Steve Read (of the band Pyramid) orchestrated all of the musicians."

Read works at Musician's Friend along with KidSpree fundraising co-chair Gina Llewellyn. Llewellyn approached Read with the group's need. Read offered to help and rounded up the other performers. All the bands will be performing gratis.

"We're always looking for ways to raise money for KidSpree," Hollenbach said. Earlier in the month the organization held an event at Mucho Gusto restaurant in Medford.

In August, J.C. Penney Co. will open its doors from 7 to 9 a.m. for the children's shopping spree. Many items will be on sale and the store will give an additional discount.

The children will be escorted by volunteer chaperones to help them make their decisions. As well as being a special treat, the event helps to build confidence in the children before they return to school in the fall.

Each child will receive breakfast, courtesy of McDonald's. Starbucks is donating coffee and Roosters is providing coffee cakes for the volunteers who accompany the children when shopping.

Each child also will receive a backpack with school supplies and other donated items. "Whatever we can get," Hollenbach said of the contents in the backpacks. "They need it so desperately. Dentists donate toothbrushes."

The KidSpree project is held under the auspices of the Jackson County Community Services Consortium. The children are referred from elementary schools throughout Jackson County that are designated as Title 1 schools.

Many of the children are participants in the Free Lunch Program. Children also are referred from Dunn House and the Oregon Department of Human Services' Child Welfare and Self-Sufficiency programs, with special emphasis on the integrated service sites in Ashland, west Medford and White City.

Money, food and school supplies are donated to enable as many children as possible to benefit from the program. Service clubs, churches, medical providers and other businesses and individuals participate in the fundraising.

"We're aiming to reach 190 kids," Hollenbach said. "The number varies from year to year, from 150 to 250. It all depends on how much we can raise. The children are selected through the schools. They know who the disadvantaged and at-risk students are."

Tickets to the concert are $10. Children under 12 will be admitted free. Tickets are available at the door and before the concert at Adam's Deli & Catering, 2901 Doctor's Park Drive, Medford, 773-9696; Hubbard's Ace Home Centers, 2655 S. Pacific Highway, Medford, 773-7778, and 2830 S. Pacific Highway, Medford, 773-7777; Kids Unlimited, 871 N. Riverside Ave., Medford, 774-3900; Ray's Food Place, 126 E. Pine St., Central Point, 664-3344; and Shakespeare Books & Antiques, LLC, 163 E. Main St., Ashland, 488-1190.

Checks can be mailed to:

KidSpree c/o Jackson County Community Services Consortium, P.O. Box 1087, Medford, OR 97501.

To be a concert sponsor or for more information, call 482-6288.

KidSpree Benefit Concert