Safe Kids Carbon County Chapter members recently recognized a group of individuals for their dedication to the organization, which helps teach parents and children how to be safe.

During the Safe Kids annual award and appreciation luncheon on Tuesday, one organization and two individuals were recognized for their contributions to the organization.

The annual award and appreciation luncheon is usually held in December, but scheduling conflicts forced a delay of the event.

Carbon County Commissioner Wayne Nothstein, who is a member of Safe Kids, presented the group appreciation award to Jean Solarczyk, president of the Palmerton Community Ambulance Association, for the organization's dedication to the Safe Kids car seat checks.

Palmerton Community Ambulance has hosted a number of free car seat checkups over the years and provides Safe Kids with help during the event.

"The members of the Palmerton Community Ambulance Association have been very gracious to us," Nothstein said, adding it provides items needed for the car seat checks.

Solarczyk said the association is happy to help because it is a good cause.

Mindy Graver, chairwoman for Safe Kids, added that Safe Kids is thankful for their support and can't wait to continue partnering with them for future car seat checks.

Graver then announced the individual appreciation award and presented it to Amy Miller, reporter with the TIMES NEWS.

Graver said she is glad that the group has the support of the local media, noting that when she goes to statewide functions, officials are surprised that she has such a strong line of communication between herself and the media.

Miller, who was surprised by the award, thanked the group for allowing her to continually cover their events and educate the public on the safety needs of children.

Nothstein then presented one more surprise award, the "It's Not A Problem" award, to Graver for her dedication to the community and to the children of Carbon County.

"Mindy stepped up to the plate when Susan (Tyler, former chairwoman of Carbon County Safe Kids) retired," he said. "Mindy has been there for us, attending every event. She is now chairing this committee and is very involved in a number of organizations.

"We felt you deserved to be recognized for all your efforts," he added. "Thank you for everything you do."

Graver thanked the group and said that she couldn't accomplish all she does without the help of the other Safe Kids members.

Following the awards, Graver recapped the year's accomplishments, which included organizing six car seat checkups in the county; receiving a $1,500 grant for sports injury prevention clinics and a $1,000 grant with Head Start that was used to educate the teachers and Head Start parents about student safety; conducting booster seat, bicycle helmet, fire, and toddler safety programs at schools and health fairs; and handing out smoke detectors, bicycle helmets and car seats to families in need.

It was also announced that several events and programs are planned for this year.

Safe Kids Carbon County will begin the Car Seat Loan Program, which is open to Carbon County families. Seats will be distributed from Care Net of Carbon County, located at 531 Mahoning St., Lehighton.

The seats will be available to low income families on a rental basis. A deposit will be required at the time of the rental and if in good condition when returned, the deposit will be refunded.

Anyone interested in participating in the Car Seat Loan Program should contact Deb Balch, coordinator, at (610) 379-0411 to set up an appointment.

Safe Kids will again partner with the Carbon Masonic Lodge 242 to host the Fun-N-Safety Fair in Jim Thorpe. This year, the event is scheduled for Saturday, May 5.

The group also received two grants from Safe Kids USA for sport safety clinics and a bean bag sport safety game that educates about concussions.

Safe Kids Carbon County was organized in 1995 to promote the prevention of childhood injuries in Carbon County through education, collaboration, and advocacy.

Safe Kids is a partnership of several agencies and individuals that provide broad-based support and diversity for educational activities. It sponsors effective injury reduction activities, promote awareness and education among child advocates, support public policies and programs that reduce injuries among children and youth.

Some of its member agencies include: Pennsylvania Department of Health, Blue Mountain Health System, Carbon County Assistance Office, Carbon County Highway Safety Program, Pennsylvania State Police, Carbon County Head Start, Penn State Cooperative Extension, Child Care Information Services of Carbon County, Carbon County Commissioners, and Right from the Start.