Wednesday, Dec. 13

Blagojevich administration launches Keep Our Kids Warm and Safe effort

Provides child safety seats and winter clothing to those who need it    

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[DEC. 13, 2006]  CHICAGO -- With the kickoff of the holiday season and lighting the James R. Thompson Center holiday tree, members of Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich's administration launched the annual Keep Our Kids Warm and Safe giving campaign on Monday -- an effort to collect winter clothing and car seats for children who need them the most. The governor's Keep Our Kids Warm and Safe campaign was started in 2003 as an annual statewide clothing and car seat drive. Citizens, businesses and state employees can donate new or gently used gloves, mittens, hats, scarves and new car seats. As they come in, donations are taken to charities in communities around the state. These charities will then distribute the donations to needy families in their area.

"During the holiday season, we want nothing more than for our families, friends and neighbors to be safe and healthy, yet there are many children who don't have warm coats, hats or mittens to protect them from the cold," Blagojevich said. "I encourage people throughout the state to help out their neighbors in need and donate winter clothing that will help others get through the winter months."

Citizens can donate clothing at state agencies located throughout the state. Last year's effort netted more than 1 million clothing donations for Hurricane Katrina victims and needy families across the state from thousands of state employees, private citizens and corporate sponsors. Learn where items can be donated by visiting

This year, 21st Century Insurance again donated 100 brand-new car seats to Keep Our Kids Warm and Safe. Illinois State Police officers are educating parents and caregivers on how to use and install the seats and are distributing "Child Safety Seats: A Parent's Guide" to explain proper seat installation and use. The guide, available in English or Spanish, can be obtained free of charge at safety fairs, by contacting the company's corporate headquarters at 1-800-211-SAVE (7283) or by visiting

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Last year, the statewide partnership between Blagojevich, the Illinois State Police, the Illinois Department of Transportation and 21st Century Insurance conducted more than 400 child safety seat inspections, resulting in more than 100 unsafe seats being destroyed. Over the last three years, 21st has donated more than 1,800 brand-new safety seats to Illinois children.

"We save lives every time we hold one of these safety inspection fairs and every time a child safety seat is properly installed," said Joyce Prager, assistant vice president for community relations for 21st Century Insurance. "Because of Governor Blagojevich's vision of the importance of child safety, 21st has created similar programs with other governors in four other states. Governor Blagojevich was the first."

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children from 2 to 14 years of age. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data shows that 80 percent of child safety seats are improperly installed and are a potential source of injury for children, up from 73 percent in 2004.

[News release from the governor's office]


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