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Blue Jeans for Babies set to begin in August

The March of Dimes is asking people to get casual for research into premature births.

Aug. 22 has been set as the organization's annual Blue Jeans for Babies Day.

"We are asking businesses and organizations to have a casual day on (that) Friday and to allow employees to wear

a t-shirt, a polo shirt or a button to show their support for helping babies have a healthy start on life," said Dianne Smith, now a community director for the central division of the Alabama March of Dimes.

Polo shirts, t-shirts and buttons sporting the Blue Jeans for Babies logo are available for $25, $15 and $5, respectively.

"We've always had excellent support from the community and this is one of our bigger fund raisers of the year.

"The money that we raise goes to research and that push right now is prematurity," Smith said.

Each year, more than 460,000 babies in the United States are born prematurely, nearly half of those for unknown reasons. On average in Alabama, some 183 babies are born prematurely, and those are 13 times more likely to die before their first birthday than full-term babies, according to March of Dimes statistics.

One Troy business makes a day of the affair.

Dianna Lee said Troy Bank & Trust uses casual day as a chance to coordinate several March of Dimes fund raisers, and with good reason.

She said they expected 10 new additions to the bank's family during 2003, including two sets of twins.

"Right now there's a lot of interest in healthy babies at Troy Bank," she said.

TB&T was the top-ranked March of Dimes fundraising team in the county

last year.

Last year, bank employees raised about $1,300 on casual day.

"It's really an organization that every time you see a healthy baby that's born - at some point, at some time - through their research, the March of Dimes had a hand in that," Lee said.

She should know. As the mother of triplets, Lee said the March of Dimes was instrumental helping her children have healthy start.

"Many times when you give money you don't know where its going; but I can directly say my triplets were born healthier because of the March of Dimes," she said.

This year, TB&T plans to have a book fair hosted by Books are Fun from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m., and windshield washing in their drive through from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., in addition to participating in casual day.