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In the hoosegow to help the kids

Cops 'N Kids exceeds fundraising goal

Dan Charette is cuffed to the jail cell while Cathy Nikolla, Chris Clark and others “do their time” on the other side of the bars. Gus Steeves. (click for larger version)
April 18, 2010
SOUTHBRIDGE — A week ago, people at Cannery Hall saw local notables, including town councilors and the police chief, in handcuffs, with at least one being wheeled around in a restraint chair.

Even though numerous real police officers, some in uniform, were around, those arrestees weren't known criminals. They were volunteers raising funds for the Cops N Kids program, while around 45 poker players did likewise upstairs.

According to organizers, the April 9 Texas Hold-em tournament, earlier collections and subsequent corporate support have exceeded their $30,000 goal for this year and even given the program a good start for the next two years.

"Obviously, the idea right now is, with the economy the way it is, to give them a step ahead, and make sure the positive progress made with the youth in this community doesn't backslide," said Cops N Kids co-chair Denise Clemence, a town councilor. She coordinated the effort with Monique Manna and Police Sgt. Jose Dingui.

In an e-mail to the Future of Southbridge list last Wednesday, Manna was a bit more exuberant.

"We don't know if you have been checking out our website, but our goal thermometer has BURST," she wrote. "We have exceeded our goal of $30,000...to date we are at $35,435! Our hope is to raise enough money this year to flow into next year."

For more on this story, please see Monday's Southbridge Evening News.

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