WAUKEGAN -- DAILY HERALD -- Keeping Families Covered and Closs Tire & Auto are joining forces to ensure that families struggling to afford car seats not only can obtain them, but also receive professional instruction on their secure installation.
Sue Dickson, owner of Closs Tire & Auto in Waukegan, completed last summer a 30-hour National Child Passenger Safety technician certification course offered through Safe Kids. She and Ann Marie Mathis, founder and CEO of Waukegan-based Keeping Families Covered, know one another through a business networking group called BNI, or Business Network International.
"We were talking and realized that this would be a great way for us to partner up," said Mathis, whose organization not only provides hundreds of thousands of diapers and period supplies annually to families in need, but also provides new car seats.
"I can't tell you the number of people who come to our mobile diaper pantries with young children who are not in car seats," Mathis continued. "Our new collaboration will be a way to ensure that people not only have the equipment that they need, but also that their seats are installed properly and safely."
Through an Illinois Department of Transportation grant, Dickson also has access to free or reduced-cost car seats, which go for $70 or more at most retailers.
The women said that their effort will serve clients who are referred through any of the dozens of community partners working with Keeping Families Covered. Listed under "About Us" on keepingfamiliescovered.org, the partnering entities include churches, governmental agencies and charities working throughout Lake County and beyond.
Keeping Families Covered will provide vouchers to referred clients, Mathis said. Voucher recipients then will schedule an appointment with Closs Tire & Auto to pick up their new seat and receive installation instruction -- all free of charge.
"This is a way to give back to the community," Dickson said. "We want to educate consumers, keep kids safe and help save lives."
Dickson added that each installation-and-instruction session typically takes about 45 minutes and includes a thorough safety check of all tethers, hooks, buckles and fasteners for the seat provided. Appointments will be available Wednesdays, and voucher recipients will be provided with the number to call.