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By FishFever at Tue, 2008-03-25 08:57 | | Virginia Fishing News


ALEXANDRIA, Virginia - The nation's only program that lends kid-sized life jackets for free to boaters or anglers is looking to grow. The BoatU.S Foundation's Life Jacket Loaner Program, which offers infant, toddler and children's life jackets at over 350 nationwide locations has launched a campaign to raise $50,000 in additional funds to meet increasing demand by establishing new loaner locations at marinas, boat ramps, waterside resorts, boat clubs, bait shops, towboats, fire houses and other public facilities. The life jackets are typically loaned out for a day or weekend.

Started in 1997, the program has loaned out life jackets on average more than 50,000 times a year - and saved three lives - as well as given thousands of parents peace of mind knowing that their children are wearing a correctly fitted life jacket.

A tax-deductible donation of only $10 will buy one vest-style life jacket and $250 will create a completely new, fully stocked loaner site. The $50,000 fundraising drive will also help replenish life jackets at some existing locations. Funding for the program is also supported in part by the 650,000 members of BoatU.S.

"When boaters or anglers bring young guests aboard, they may not have the right-sized life jacket or a child may have outgrown their old jacket, so the youngster is sometimes put in one that is too big, or worse, goes without one," said BoatU.S. Foundation Program Manager Ted Sensenbrenner.

"Putting a kid in an ill-fitted jacket can be dangerous. Once in the water, small children can easily slip out of them," he added.

Since many states, as well as a federal rule, now require life jackets to be worn by children, the loaner program has helped out families caught unaware of such requirements.

Go to to make your donation online or mail your donation to: BoatU.S. Foundation, c/o Life Jacket Loaner Program, 880 South Pickett St., Alexandria, VA 22304. To find a loaner site in your area visit

The BoatU.S. Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water is a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit education and research organization primarily funded by the voluntary contributions of BoatU.S members. The Foundation operates more than a dozen programs including the only accredited, free, online general boating safety course, a low-cost EPIRB rental program, and the "Help Stop the Drops" national clean fueling campaign. It has awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants for nonprofit groups for boating safety and environmental projects.

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