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February 19, 2009

Staffer passionate about helping children

It’s easy to discover Terry Lane’s passion. A temporary staffer at Pitt, Lane has been in her administrative support position at the Katz Graduate School of Business only for a few weeks, but her office space already shows where her heart is.

Intermingled with family photos are pictures of children she sponsors through several aid organizations: Ranging in age from infancy to 10, they include girls in Appalachia, Mexico, Bolivia and Guatemala, a baby in Chile and the newest, a 6-year-old boy who lives in a remote Bolivian village.

Posted on her desk and nearby are flyers describing other children who need sponsors.

In addition to sponsoring individual children and encouraging others to do the same, Lane is collecting coloring books and crayons as well as children’s books in English and Spanish that she will send to nonprofit organizations serving children in Appalachia, on Native American reservations and in inner-city communities in the United States, as well as children in Central and South America, Africa, India and Asia.

Her current goal is 50 new sponsors and 100 sets of coloring books and crayons.

Anyone interested in contributing items should drop them off at 278 Mervis Hall or contact Lane at for details about sending items directly to the nonprofits.

Lane said she favors smaller aid organizations such as Children, Incorporated ( and Child Aid (, “ones where I can get a more personal involvement” in learning about her sponsored children’s individual needs and in interacting with the groups’ staff.

While she’s not shy about her passion for helping children, “I don’t push,” she said, respecting that others have their own passions for other causes.

Lane said she’s acted on her concern for others since she was a teenager, attempting to smooth relations in her high school when busing caused tension among students, and later connecting with Amnesty International.

Over the years, she’s supported numerous causes ranging from humanitarian issues to those involving animals and the environment. Lane said her main focus remains on children, with an emphasis on literacy, libraries and schools.

For several years she operated a web site that connected small groups’ humanitarian projects directly with potential donors or volunteers. Those efforts ranged from procuring books for a library that had lost much of its collection in a flood, to soliciting donations of yarn for Navajo weavers in Arizona, to publicizing the need for warm clothes and baby items for orphans in Kazakhstan.

She served as a means of connecting needs with people rather than collecting items directly. “Donors just sent things right to the recipients,” she said.

While Lane ceased operating her free “do-gooder” site in 2007, later this year she plans to launch a similar endeavor she will call

Lane said that while her dream would be to have sufficient resources to travel around the world to improve orphanages, build schools, libraries and health clinics and ensure the safety of women and children, “I’m doing what I can” by encouraging people to join with her to help others.

She noted that the economic downturn has been particularly difficult for aid organizations whose donors likewise have been placed in financial binds. Although sponsoring a child typically costs less than $1 a day, she suggests that those who feel unable to take on that responsibility alone consider pooling resources with friends or family members, or consider one-time donations.

“Everyone has the capacity for doing something good,” whether it’s for an established charity or a gesture as simple as taking the trash to the curb for an elderly neighbor, she said.

“I do expect everybody to do something nice for somebody else,” Lane said.

— Kimberly K. Barlow

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