The Ellis County Rainbow Room will host a fun run in recognition of National Child Abuse Prevention month in April.
Locals can show their support for underserved children of Ellis County by walking, running or simply showing up. Participants will tackle either a one or three-mile track at 9 a.m. March 30 in Getzendaner Park.
Registration is not required, and the run is free to participate in. All an individual has to do is arrive with a new article of children’s clothing, diapers, or a gift card to donate.
"In 2018, Ellis County had 1,523 reports of child abuse or neglect," the ECRR reported in a press release. The release also notes 320 incidents were confirmed. Tragically four children from Ellis County were lost to abuse in 2018. Additionally, there were 241 children in “substitute care” such as removals, relative placements and foster homes.
Ellis County Rainbow Room was initially founded in 1996 as a volunteer-based organization and was established by Laura Bush, who served as the First Lady of Texas at the time. The first check of support ever received was from Evelyn and Jim Pitts, former Texas House Representative.
In current years the ECRR has been supported by the Waxahachie Foundation, Waxahachie Junior Service League, and churches — particularly the Central Presbyterian Ladies Circle.
The mission of the Rainbow Room is to support the needs of underserved children as identified by Texas Child Protective Services.
Felicia Newman, liaison from CPS to the Rainbow Room, said the organization is helpful at “walking hand-in-hand with families to provide basic needs for children.”
Newman said a child is removed or placed with a relative, they often come “with the clothes on their back or everything they own in a garbage bag."
The ECRR attempts to fill that gap.
“It could be clothes, diapers, beds, coats, school uniforms, or even temporary food," Newman elaborated. "There are 40 dedicated professional CPS caseworkers assigned to Ellis County, and the Rainbow Rooms attempt to fill what they need for their kids.”
In 2018, the ECRR supported 174 children in the county.
Natalie Box, an avid runner, has spearheaded the fun run for the last five years. This year, Box made the initiative to get her child's school involved — Felty Elementary students will raise funds for ECRR with its spring event.
“We are starting a running club at Felty Elementary to get ready for the Rainbow Room Run,” Box said.
“I love the idea of helping kids right here in my community. I think about how blessed my family is and how much my girls have. These kids are just looking for their basic needs to be met," Box advocated. "The Rainbow Room does an amazing job of stepping up and meeting their needs. I am so excited to help and also get my daughter involved this year. I’m hoping this will be the biggest year yet.”