02/27/13 — Vigil, auction strives to remember children lost

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Vigil, auction strives to remember children lost

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on February 27, 2013 1:46 PM

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WAGES program assistant Jennifer Dupuis lights a candle that symbolizes five children that have been abused in Wayne County during Life L.I.G.H.T.S. for Children candlelight vigil at Berkeley Mall.

One candle burning brightly, draped with a black bow, stood somberly in the middle of the stage, reminding those gathered that a child died from abuse here last year.

It was the centerpiece of the fifth annual Life L.I.G.H.T.S. (Love, Instruction, Guardianship, Hope, Time, Sponsorship) candlelight vigil for children held on the center stage at Berkeley Mall. It was sponsored by WAGES Wayne County For Children Council.

On either side of the one candle stood two candelabra trees with nine candles each, representing the 24 children who died in North Carolina last year from abuse, one of whom was from Wayne County.

In past years, the vigil has included a speaker and entertainment by a children's group. But the For Children Council decided to do it a little differently this year and had an auction featuring 53 pieces of artwork by children in the local public schools, local day cares and Seymour Johnson Child Development Center.

Bids started at $5. Much of the artwork went for $7, $8 and even $10.

However, one piece brought a whopping $40. It was on a green background, done by a 4-year-old, titled "That's Me On a Swing." It depicted a little girl on a swing, smiling as she swung with the bright yellow sun overhead.

During the auction, 6-year-old Emma Jones walked right up to auctioneer Mike Kelly and handed him $10. She got her pick of artwork.

She chose one titled "This is My Class. We Are Friends," showing children laughing together.

"It's a pretty picture," Emma said.

Mom Corrie said the family was just hanging out at the mall and happened upon the auction.

"Emma was so excited so I gave her some money to go over and buy a picture," Mrs. Jones said. "I think the art auction was a good idea."

Proceeds from the art auction will be used to help stop child abuse and neglect in Wayne County.

Ms. Mitchell said the council thought the children's art auction would bring more people out and make them more aware of child abuse, neglect and maltreatment.

"We asked the children to depict what they thought child abuse and neglect was or how they thought children should be treated," she said.

"We have the vigil to make the community aware of helping keep children safe. Child abuse can happen anywhere to any child."

She said child abuse and neglect is a real problem in Wayne County, just as it is everywhere else. She said people can help by reporting child abuse and neglect if they see it.

"It doesn't matter if you have kids or not," Ms. Mitchell said. "Everyone should be taking care of all children, whether they are ours or not. An African proverb says that it takes a village to raise a child."

And it takes a village to help stop child abuse and neglect.

For Children Council co-chairwoman Jennifer Dupuis said that there were more than 1,600 reports of child abuse and neglect last year in Wayne County.

"About 630 of those were substantiated," she said. "We had 24 deaths in the state last year as a result of child abuse; they died at the hands of a parent or caregiver.

"And although we had only one death in Wayne County last year from child abuse and neglect, one is still too many."