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Braintree firm donates to children’s advocacy center

Photo courtesy of the Northwestern District Attorney's offce
 Northwestern Children’s Advocacy Center Director Susan Loehn, with supplies worth hundreds of dollars the center received recently from the Braintree office of New England Office Supply. Lohen said it is using the donated supplies to  make the center feel homey and warm.

Photo courtesy of the Northwestern District Attorney's offce Northwestern Children’s Advocacy Center Director Susan Loehn, with supplies worth hundreds of dollars the center received recently from the Braintree office of New England Office Supply. Lohen said it is using the donated supplies to make the center feel homey and warm.

NORTHAMPTON — A children’s advocacy center that serves western Massachusetts will be able to provide for its young clients in a more comfortable setting thanks to donations from a company at the eastern edge of the state.

The Northwestern Children’s Advocacy Center in Northampton received supplies worth hundreds of dollars from the Braintree office of New England Office Supply collected over the holidays as part of a giving tree set up in the lobby.

“We were touched by what we heard about the children. We just hoped we could do something to put a smile on their faces,” said Patricia Vacca, the company’s corporate accounts manager. This is the first year the donation has gone to the advocacy center, Vacca said. In past years, donations have normally gone to organizations closer to Boston, but this year she wanted to reach out to western Massachusetts. The advocacy center was highly recommended by the Massachusetts Children’s Alliance, she said, a statewide organization that provides support and services to abused children.

During the holiday season, a tree was set up in the company’s lobby with paper ornaments stating items that are needed at the advocacy center. The items varied in price so that many employees were able to participate, Vacca said. This year, about 40 out of 70 employees donated items. These included a range of articles from Lincoln Logs to a fire extinguisher to a small copy machine. The donated toys will be used by children who come to the center after it is suspected they have been abused.

The center uses a team of investigators and medical, mental health and social service providers to work with children who have been suspected of physical or sexual abuse. It serves Hampshire and Franklin counties and the town of Athol.

“We try to make it seem like a family home,” said Susan Loehn, the center’s director. She said the organization tries to create a stress-free and comfortable environment. Young children can now color during interviews and parents can read new books with their children.

New England Office Supply’s donation helped revitalize the supplies of the office, replacing, for example, a game of Candy Land that had many missing pieces.

Loehn said it is important to understand that child abuse is a problem in the area. She said that 188 children were brought to the center and interviewed or received medical services in 2012.

The advocacy center will hold a fundraising dinner on April 4 at the Log Cabin in Holyoke, marking National Child Abuse Prevention Month.

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