The "Our Kids" project, also known as "Our Kids Are OK," provides assistance to Baxter Country Area children who need medicine, medical treatment or other necessities when no other source of assistance is available. The objective of the program is to make sure that no child goes without life's necessities.
"Our Kids" began in 1992 and is co-sponsored by the Mountain Home Kiwanis Club and The Baxter Bulletin newspaper, in cooperation with the local Department of Human Services, the Baxter County Health Unit and area schools. The program is funded by donations from the community.
The "Our Kids" project serves the children of the Baxter County, Arkansas area who are not eligible for services under other existing programs. These are usually children of the working poor. The parent or guardian of any child completes a simple application and returns it to the supervisor of the Baxter County Department of Human Services. The supervisor uses the information on the application to establish eligibility for existing programs; if the child is eligible, services are expedited. If ineligible, existing community resources are tapped. For example, a child may be referred to the Lions Club for vision services. If no other help is available, the applicant is considered by the "Our Kids" committee at a meeting held every other week. Members of the committee are representatives of the sponsoring agencies and community volunteers.
At the committee meeting, the need is discussed and a decision made on each case. The committee's activities are reported in a regular newspaper column, called "Our Kids," this is published on the front page of The Baxter Bulletin. The names of the applicants are not disclosed, but the situations and the remedies are described to let the community know how the needs are being met. The column is also used to request donations of specific items from the community. The community donates money and/or services to cover the need. The child receives the service and "Our Kids" pay for the bill.
Since the project's inception in February 1992, "Our Kids" has helped more than 1,053 children. A neighboring county has begun a similar project modeled after "Our Kids".