“Back to school” is a phrase that, to many of us, conjures up images of shopping for a new pair of jeans, a new backpack, and getting as much as we can out of the last days of summer. To retailers, it means a jump in consumer spending on clothes and supplies.
Children Incorporated’s Director of U.S. Programs, Renée Kube, knows that “back to school” means something truly challenging for the 15 million children who live in poverty in the United States. Her team is about to leave for Eastern Kentucky to deliver school supplies to a number of communities there, something that she’s done more times than she could remember during her 20-year tenure in this position.
In the past 10 years, the cost of school supplies and extracurricular activities has gone up 88% for elementary schools, 81% for middle schools, and 68% for high schools, according to a report done by Communities in Schools in partnership with Huntington Bank. In Eastern Kentucky, where poverty spreads as coal mines continue to close, this uptick has turned a difficult situation into an almost impossible one.
“What if you don’t have that warm coat that you need to wait for the school bus,” says Renée. “Or if you don’t have the shoes you need because you’re sharing them with your brother, and it’s his turn to go to school that day. If you don’t have the supplies you need, then you’re not as apt to do your homework or classwork. These are real, significant, actual barriers.”
A little can do so much
Though backpacks, paper, pencils, glue sticks, crayons, colored pencils, weather-appropriate clothing and shoes don’t seem like much, these items play a huge part in supporting a generation’s future. “They promote attendance and build self-esteem,” says Renée. “Kids who are in our program are some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged in our communities.”
And there’s an asset to how accessible these everyday items seem to those of us who can afford them—even $25 would go a long way towards getting a child the supplies they need. The volunteer coordinators have made it their mission to be as savvy at stretching a dollar as they possibly can. And the reaction from the kids is something Renée wishes every donor could see personally.
“I love what I do,” she remarks with much enthusiasm. “The highlight is definitely going out to the communities and meeting the kids.” From younger students who want to know everything about their sponsors to teenagers who take a little while to open up about their hopes and dreams, Renée can see so easily how these children are affected, just by knowing somebody cares for their future.
HOW DO I SPONSOR A CHILD IN KENTUCKY?
You can sponsor a child in Brazil in one of two ways – call our office and speak with one of our sponsorship specialists at 1-800-538-5381, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.