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SHELTERED WORKSHOP SPREADS 'LEGACY OF LOVE'

A "legacy of love" is spreading across the state from Allegany County.

The legacy is a plastic travel mug assembled in a sheltered workshop near Wellsville.

"It's the official product this year" of the state ARC Legacy of Love week, Feb. 7 to 14, said Marketing Director Leslie Williams.

The state's 59 ARC chapters -- formerly called Associations for Retarded Citizens -- have the option of buying the mugs filled with cinnamon candy from the Wellsville workshop and reselling them, she said.

Not all chapters do that, "Ms. Williams said, "but if they sell a product, it has to be this."

The Allegany chapter won the franchise to assemble and distribute the mugs during a marketing contest in Syracuse, she said. Each chapter has the opportunity to propose a statewide product and its marketing and distribution.

Allegany's 16-ounce mug is handleless this year, she said.

"I pitched it as a mug a la Starbucks, and their eyes lit up," said Ms. Williams.

The chapter has a year's worth of experience selling the fund-raising mugs. Last year, about 10,000 mugs with a handle and a different candy were sold.

"Our goal this year is 15,000, and we're ahead of projections," she said.

County ARC chapters sell the mugs to celebrate the week of awareness of developmental disabilities. The sale price is $3.95, and each mug represents a profit to that chapter.

The Allegany unit gets a smaller portion of the price as its profit, she said.

All the proceeds benefit individuals with developmental disabilities.

The workshop assembly line in a former Army Reserve training station on Andover Road has about 20 employees working on the project full time, she said.

Orders began arriving in January, she said, and for a month or so, "we were shipping 60 or 70 cases a week."

Allegany ARC already has a lock on next year's sale item for the same event. The contest won in Syracuse was a two-year commitment.

"Next year's mug will be a little different. We're working on it," said Ms. Williams.

ARC buys the mugs from a manufacturer in Warren, Pa., Whirley Products Co., with whom the group does other contract work. Workers in Wellsville assemble the two-part snap lids, add the decorative inserts between layers, weigh and seal the candy and pack the product for shipping, she said.

The work pays their wages in the workshop.

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