Washington show to conduct lifejacket giveaway

PUYALLUP, Wash. – With a daily giveaway of up to 1,000 properly fitted lifejackets to children 12-and-under, the “Keep Hope Afloat” program will make its debut Jan. 24-28 at the Washington Sportsmen’s Show, organizers said recently.

A major campaign to educate families about water safety and avoiding drowning, “Keep Hope Afloat” is a program developed by the PFD Charitable Foundation and presented by Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center and Washington State Parks.

Manufactured by Mustang Survival of Richmond, B.C., the lifejackets have been purchased by the PFD Charitable Foundation and have a retail value of over $50 each. The daily giveaway of 1,000 properly fitted lifejackets is limited to children 12-and-under and sizes are limited to quantities on hand. A child must be present in order to receive their lifejacket.

The PFD Charitable Foundation, whose sole mission is to get children into properly fitted life jackets, conducts fundraising in order to purchase lifejackets, which are then donated, to families at public events.

As part of the giveaway, children and their parents will participate in a 10-minute boating safety presentation conducted by representatives of Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center, Washington State Parks, the U.S. Coast Guard and volunteer organizations.

Drowning is the second-leading cause of unintentional injury death for children in the United States under the age of 14. In Washington State, 90 children under the age of 15 drowned from 1999-2003.

“We support many water safety programs, but this one certainly raises the bar, and stands out in making a direct impact,” said Bob Askew, CEO of Mustang Survival.

The PFD Charitable Foundation is also encouraging families, facilities and clubs to donate used youth and adult lifejackets that are in good condition but no longer fit. These jackets will be inspected and certified by U.S. Coast Guard officials and re-distributed to boating safety programs and organizations throughout the Northwest, or discarded if they are in poor condition. In exchange, donors may receive a new youth lifejacket (ages 12-and-under). Tax-deductible cash donations can also be made at the show and receipts for tax purposes will be provided.

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