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Monday, 9 December, 2002, 18:41 GMT
Charities welcome Winona
Winona Ryder
Ryder has to work with charities for her sentence
Peter Bowes

Los Angeles charities say they are looking forward to having Winona Ryder as a volunteer.

The actress has been sentenced to do 480 hours of community service as part of her punishment for shoplifting in Beverly Hills last Christmas.

Ryder will spend the first three months of next year as an unpaid helper with three organisations specialising in the treatment and prevention of serious diseases.

"We're going do everything we can to treat her like all volunteers," said Jacqueline Gelfand, Executive Director, Caring for Children and Families with Aids.

"She'll have to go through the same training that all of our volunteers are required to go through."

Winona Ryder
She will also have to undergo drug counselling
All the volunteer agencies have agreed to shield Ryder from what judge Eldon Fox described as "interference from outside media".

However, Ms Gelfand acknowledged that the having the Oscar-nominated actress as a volunteer was "a good thing".

"I think any time we have celebrities connected to the centre - Christian Slater has been connected and others in the past - brings us really good publicity and brings in money," she said.

Ryder will spend 120 hours working with the group that provides residential care for children infected or affected by HIV.

'Meaningful'

In a statement, Ryder's publicist said the actress was "thankful that the judge has allowed the community service to enable her continued work with children".

An additional 120 hours will be spent with the Foundation for the Junior Blind.

Judge Fox named The City of Hope Medical Centre, which is situated in Duarte, California, as the place where Ryder will put in the remaining 240 hours of her community service.

The centre is one of the most advanced medical and research facilities in the world - specialising in work to find the cause and cures for cancer and other life-threatening diseases, including diabetes and HIV/Aids.

Every year, more than 500 volunteers work alongside the centre's physicians, nurses and researchers. Celebrity volunteers are seen as especially useful in boosting the centre's fund-raising effort.

"We are very pleased to be the recipient of this opportunity," said the hospital's Anne McCune.

"When they come and get involved with the institution they find a real meaning from what our organisation produces and it is meaningful to them as well as to us."

In addition the actress will undergo drug and psychological counselling.

A probation report published after her sentencing concluded that Ryder was "addicted" to painkillers.

It said, over a three year period, she used six different names and 20 different doctors to get hold of 37 prescriptions.



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