Silverwood donates $50,000 to Children's Village

$35,000 was donated by riders of theme park's train ride

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Paul Norton, general manager of Silverwood Theme Park, with actors from Silverwood's train ride and show, presents a $50,000 donation Saturday to Sheila Dorame, the executive director of Children's Village. Standing from left: "Deputy" Michael Dougall, Sandy Saffeels (holding Shayla Wilk), Norton, Dorame and Chris "Marshall Jack" Tortora (holding Payton Wilk); front from left: Colby Poe, Sierra Poe and Bobby Dorame.

COEUR d'ALENE - Marshall Jack and Deputy Dougall, Silverwood Theme Park's "Railroad Police," are there to serve and protect riders of Steam Train No. 7.

But some bumbling bandits always manage to get past the lawmen, just long enough to get on the train and back off with some of the riders' money.

That's OK because it's all part of the show, and Silverwood's guests are in on it. They know that any change they hand over to the "robbers" will be donated to charity. This year's beneficiary is The Children's Village, a Coeur d'Alene nonprofit that provides a safe home for children who might not otherwise have one.

Silverwood's 2012 visitors gave $35,000.

"I was just amazed at how generous people were on the train, especially in this economy," said Chris Tortora, who plays Marshall Jack.

Silverwood's owners Gary and Jeanne Norton, longtime supporters of The Children's Village, contributed another $15,000 making a total gift of $50,000.

"This is a huge blessing," said Sheila Dorame, Children's Village's executive director.

The agency cares for 12-15 children per day, and receives just $10 per day for each child, Dorame said. That's if the child was placed with Children's Village by the state.

For private placements, there is no state funding.

Kids arrive at Children's Village after being taken from their homes because they've been abused or neglected, or after a parent has been arrested.

The agency also provides a crisis nursery for families who voluntarily seek a temporary safe place for their children to stay, when there is no other reliable, responsible adult available.

Dorame said the Silverwood donation will help "offset the fees to help the kids with medical needs, therapy, transportation to their original schools, and of course food and shelter."

"The Nortons have always been so good to us," Dorame said. "They let our kids go to Silverwood for free, and they spoil them."

Paul Norton, the theme park's general manager, said supporting Children's Village is very important to his father, Silverwood owner Gary Norton.

"That's what my dad's about," Paul said.

Silverwood's train ride has operated since the park opened in 1988 and is one of the park's most popular attractions.

In the last four years, Silverwood guests have given $200,000 that has gone to charity.

Tortora and Michael Dougall, who plays Deputy Dougall for the train ride show, visited Children's Village in costume Saturday when this year's donation was handed over.

They spent some time with the children, doing what they do during the show.

"Did you get a deputy badge? There's bandits in the area. Do you think you could help us out?" Tortora asked.

A former police officer in Alaska and stuntman for Universal Studios, Tortora said he's impressed by how friendly and giving the people of North Idaho are.

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