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Now back to her regular programming

"Now back to her regular programming" Continued...

Issue: "Abolition of C.S. Lewis?," June 16, 2001

Two months later, though the sadness still haunts her eyes, she prefers to focus on the positive. "I like my life so much better now. I get my kidlet off to school at 6 a.m., and I don't go on the air until noon, so I've got plenty of time. I write books. I got a new bicycle made out of titanium, so I can do hills more easily. I make jewelry.... I always have stuff to do, but I sort of like having my mornings back.

"I really didn't like doing a taped show," she insists. "It took 4 H hours to do an hour-long show. It takes three hours to do a three-hour radio show. I like that much better."

With some of her free time, Dr. Laura is redoubling her efforts on behalf of the charitable foundation she started in 1998. It was then, while working with Childhelp USA, that she learned of some 100,000 abused and neglected children each year who enter shelters and foster care agencies, often with nothing more than the clothes on their backs. "These kids who are rescued from abuse and neglect at home, they have nothing. So we give them these things we call 'My Stuff' bags, because everyone should have their own 'stuff.'

"We've got toys and clothes and blankets and toiletries and all sorts of wonderful things that people donate or even make themselves. That's what's been wonderful about it-there's been so much personal effort so that when the kids get these bags they know that somebody cared. It isn't just some machine that made a thing to give to them. The bag is put together, it's stuffed by volunteers, by people who care."

To fund the effort to distribute approximately 30,000 My Stuff bags a year, Dr. Laura donates all of her speaking fees to the foundation that bears her name. She solicits donations on the air, and listeners respond to the tune of $5,000 to $10,000 a month. And she hand-crafts necklaces from bits and pieces picked up in her travels, then sells the finished product at charity auctions. So far this year, the jewelry business alone has raised $60,000 for the My Stuff program.

Yet for all the good it does, the Dr. Laura Schlessinger Foundation can sometimes get spattered with the mud thrown at its founder. "At the height of our controversy, there were actually some shelters that refused-refused-the bags because of their personal animus towards me," she says, leaning forward in her chair at the memory of the slight. "They actually would begrudge children these bags for their little social statement. I thought that was egregious."

The story comes out of nowhere, completely unsolicited. Dr. Laura wants to talk about the future, but it's obvious that the past still stings. "It had nothing to do with the content of the bags," she continues. "The Left personalizes things. They go after people. We go after ideas, they go after people. They were willing to hurt the children [in order to] make a statement about rejecting anything that had to do with me. How sick is that?"

The moment passes and she's back on message, talking about her love of radio. "I'm influencing a lot of people to do the right things in their lives, and that is very rewarding. No matter how I'm feeling or what mood I'm in, when I turn on the microphone, I'm in heaven. I'm doing what I believe I was meant to be doing. And I don't believe any one of us has the right or the luxury to cast that aside when God gives us the direction."

Every day, she says, she gets multiple letters from listeners whose lives she has touched. "I'm staying home with my kids now because of you. I didn't have an abortion because of you. I got married because of you. So yeah, it's working."

She's on a roll, counting her blessings. Then the smile fades for a moment and her jaw sets. Though she isn't supposed to be talking about it-though a reporter wouldn't dare ask about it-the ugliness of the past impinges once again on the present. "I guess if I had any delusions of wanting it to come easy, they're gone," she says with a hollow laugh. "They're way gone."

One day, the pain of the public flogging she endured may itself be "way gone." But not yet. For all her emphasis on putting principles over feelings, Dr. Laura does have the latter, and they've been hurt.

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