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New grandparent program connects generations

A new pilot program is connecting young with old in Franklin County.

WAYNESBORO, Pa. — A new pilot program is connecting young with old in Franklin County.

Thursdays are Judy Lininger's favorite day of the week, where she spends several hours at Waynesboro Day Care Center.

"I just hug the kids and help them, and zip up coats and read stories," Lininger said. "And just help them wash their hands after they've painted. I'm just here to help."

It's all part of the Keystone Grandparents Program, in partnership with the Franklin County Area Agency on Aging. The program was approved for a small grant through the Franklin County Human Services Block Grant, which is what pays for clearances, background checks and stipends, which are offered to the "grandparents."

The program gives children in daycare centers who may need extra support another role model to look up to.

"There's a relationship that builds and it gives stability to the child," Sue James, the program coordinator of Keystone Grandparents, said. "And for the senior citizen, we hope that it gives them more purpose in life."

Lininger is one of the volunteers.

"My husband passed away a few years ago and I'm just kind of on my own," Lininger said. "My grandchildren are grown for the most part, and, well, here I am."

Each "grandparent" is given the option of what type of work they'd like to do, what age, and how often. The only requirement is that the "grandparents" work a minimum of 5 hours a week.

Right now the program is only available in Waynesboro. The grant got the program going, but it will run out soon. It has applied for an additional grant through PCCD - Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, which would allow it to expand throughout the rest of the county over the next few years, if awarded.