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Volunteers needed to help children in court

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Volunteers are needed to help abused and neglected children who have been removed from their homes and need representation in court.

Advocate volunteers known as "court appointed special advocates" assist the Office of the Guardian ad Litem for the 4th District Juvenile Court, helping the court receive specific information about what action would be in the best interest of a particular child.Advocate volunteers assist the Guardian ad Litem attorneys by meeting with the children and helping with research. The information gathered by the volunteers helps judges make informed decisions about what is best for the child.

"(Advocate) volunteers make sure the kids don't fall through the cracks," said volunteer coordinator Lisa Miller. "Acting as the eyes and ears for the attorney, (advocate) volunteers ensure that good choices are made in behalf of the children."

Training for volunteers begins Oct. 1. Individuals must be at least 18 and available 10 to 15 hours each month for at least 12 months.

Other volunteer opportunities available throughout Utah County include:

- Assist at the Parent Education Resouce Center in Provo helping to watch children during a weekly parenting class.

- Volunteer at the Family Support and Treatment Center. Volunteers are needed to help sponsor children for school supplies or other items the children may need for school. The center is also collecting canned goods and clothing for children between 3 and 5. The center is looking for artists to paint two murals of an underwater scene and school bus in the crisis nursery.

- Donate blood to Red Cross. The Greater Utah County Chapter of the American Red Cross needs donations at the blood bank in Orem. They take both appointments and walk-in volunteers every Monday and Wednesday.

- Assist children and youth at Concept Key. Concept Key needs groups or individuals to help with the Young Mothers program by holding babies and reading to them between 11 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. each day. Volunteers are needed to help in the after-school program and the regular intercession throughout the day by befriending children and teens who would otherwise be left at home unsupervised.

For more information about these and other volunteer opportunities in Utah County, contact the United Way Volunteer Center at 374-8108, weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., by e-mail (volunteer@unitedwayuc.org), or visit the United Way of Utah County Web site (www.unitedwayuc.org).