The local search for missing children has taken an animated turn. None other than Gumby has gotten into the act.
Posters showing 5-by-7-inch photographs of missing children can be seen around Fisherman's Village in Marina del Rey. A costumed Gumby will also be on hand from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday to entertain and to "publicize the number of children who are disappearing," said Art Clokey, Gumby's creator.
"Gumby represents love and caring," said Clokey, who lives in Topanga. He said that participating in the program sponsored by Find the Children, a branch of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, is a natural outgrowth of the special bond Gumby has with children.
Nationwide, 1.5 million children are reported missing each year, according to Tracey Ramos, media director for Find the Children. About a million are runaways and an additional 100,000 are taken by parents who don't have legal custody. Estimates of the number of children abducted annually by strangers vary from 100 to as many as 20,000, Ramos said.
Writers Save Lives
Next time someone nearby is having a heart attack, think about calling a writer.
Thanks to the efforts of Mort R. Lewis, a Marina del Rey screen and television writer, 1,500 members of the Writers' Guild of America and their families have received instruction in cardiopulmonary resuscitation. The organization also offers free advice on how to correctly portray CPR in dramatic productions.
Lewis said he became interested in CPR several years ago after watching a "60 Minutes" segment about a training program in Seattle. "I was impressed by all the lives that were saved," he said.
He started a CPR program at the Writers' Guild in 1977 and became an instructor in 1978. "It seems that so many of my friends have heart attacks," he said. "Some of them die."
Lewis also has persuaded the National Broadcasting Co., the cities of Seattle and Beverly Hills, the Writers' Guild, the Directors' Guild of America, Screen Actors' Guild and the Greater Los Angeles Affiliate of the American Heart Assn. to adopt a postage-meter imprint depicting a red heart and the slogan "CPR Saves Lives." In Los Angeles, the mayor's office is canvassing other city agencies to see if they want to use the imprint.
Lewis said he hopes the spread of the postage-meter imprint will persuade others to take CPR training, which he said takes 3 1/2 to 8 hours.
Bicycling for Children
Ted Wimberg and Mike Weddington have logged more than 1,600 miles on a tandem bicycle throughout California since July 18 to promote expanded services for runaway children.
The pair rolled into Santa Monica recently, more than 1,600 miles into their 3,000-mile trek. "We're trying to hit as many youth centers and youth shelters as we can," Weddington said.
Wimberg and Weddington, runaway shelter volunteers in Davis, Calif., undertook the ride in part to promote two bills in the Legislature, SB881 and AB1596, that would establish a state runaway youth act and a homeless project, respectively.
According to a 1980 study by the United Way, the Los Angeles area is a magnet for runaway children, attracting as many as 20,000 during the summer months, 10,000 the rest of the year.
"Once on the streets, they get into drugs, prostitution and thievery," Weddington said. "It becomes hard for them to get out of the hole they've dug themselves into."
Before there was ever a social "safety net," society's needy often depended upon religious groups for assistance.
That image from the nation's past is surviving, even flourishing, in the present through Chabad, an organization celebrating its 20th anniversary in Los Angeles on Sunday with a telethon entitled "L'Chaim--To Life." It will air on KHJ-TV, Channel 9, from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m.
According to Rabbi Binyomin Lisbon, associate director of the organization, Chabad has had to depend more heavily upon private contributions in recent years as state and federal funds have begun to dry up. He said the money raised by the Sunday telethon "will help us keep our doors open."
Chabad is an organization that has literally risen from the ashes. A fire destroyed the group's headquarters in May, 1980, claiming three lives. To pay for the rebuilding effort, the group hit upon the telethon idea, which is becoming an annual event.
"Everything in this world that seems to be bad, something good comes out of it," the rabbi said.
Services provided by the group include drug rehabilitation, vocational training, mental health counseling and aid for the homeless and hungry. According to Lisbon, the services are available to Jews and non-Jews alike. "When someone's hungry, you don't ask them where they come from," he said.