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They come to the church a few at a time on this warm September morning, small children and their mothers. One child clutches a teddy bear, another trails a tattered blanket behind him while his older sister skips confidently on ahead. As I watch, still other mothers appear, some carrying infants and diaper bags. One has her hair up in curlers, a trench coat thrown over her pajamas. It's nine o'clock. All of them are on time, for this is the first day of the eighth year of our Mother's Day Out program at the church.

I have come as always with a sense of gratitude and some amazement at what is happening. Our program is licensed to care for eighty children. We have never advertised, yet every space is filled. There's even talk of adding another day to accommodate more mothers.

For five hours our staff will provide a safe and loving atmosphere for these children while their mothers do the things that are best performed without a small child's presence. One woman is planning a special lunch out ...

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