Despite the loss of government funding, Tamaqua's Drug Abuse Resistance Education program is going strong. Supporters just need to find alternative ways to pay for the program. In addition to educational materials designed to re-inforce the advantage of a drug free life, the Tamaqua Area DARE program includes the annual DARE Challenge and graduation for fifth grade students; additional instruction at the seventh grade level; school wide assemblies for Tamaqua Area, Marian High School and St. Jerome's Regional School students; and a scholarship program.

The ten week DARE curriculum is currently being taught to all fifth grade students in the Tamaqua Area School District and St. Jerome's Regional School. The annual DARE Challenge was held this past Saturday, featuring hours of fun for the students, their instructors and their families. The positive interaction between the children, professionals and community is designed to help students realize they do not need drugs to have fun.

State budget cuts last school year, 2008-2009, meant the DARE Steering Committee had to become their own cheerleaders and financial backers. Such is the case again this year, when the committee must depend on the generosity of the public in order to continue trying to positively impact the younger generation. A letter of appeal was sent out to local businesses and community groups. The Tamaqua Rescue Squad has answered that call and will co-sponsor a roast beef dinner on March 20 to benefit both organizations. The event will be held at the rescue squad garage, 19 Pine St., from noon to 6 p.m. Take outs and free delivery will be available by calling 570-668-500 or 570-691-1091.

Partners in the DARE program include the Tamaqua Area School District, as well as the Tamaqua, Rush Township and West Penn Township Police Departments. The police departments provide specially trained officers, including Cpl. Dwayne Hacker and Patrolman Michael Hobbs of Tamaqua; Rush Township Patrolman Duane Frederick; and West Penn Patrolman Jason Lorah.

For more information, call (570) 668-5000.