My mom and dad were hard-working, lower middle class people, and they did everything in their power to provide for my brother and me. Though their financial situation had improved greatly by the time I reached my teen years, they endured some very difficult times early on. At one point, when I was a small child, my dad lost his job, and with no income being generated, he was unable to pay his bills. His ability to obtain credit was temporarily blocked, and repercussions from that situation haunted him for years to follow.

My mom and dad were hard-working, lower middle class people, and they did everything in their power to provide for my brother and me.

My mom, ever willing to work, moved through several low-paying positions, working at a fast-food restaurant for a while, then as a cook for a church daycare center, and later clerking in a retail store. There was very little money, yet my brother and I never went without decent and clean clothing and adequate amounts of food. My parents, along with our large extended family of aunts, uncles, grandparents, and good church folk, made sure that we had all that we needed.

Striving for Success

Each fall, as a fresh school year rolled around, we received new clothes, though I clearly remember my dad worrying about how he and my mom would pay for those items. My mom insisted that my brother and I both receive new pants, shirts, a coat, and even shoes for the start of the school year. My mom recognized that without those items — clean clothes and nice shoes, in particular — my brother and I would stand out in a negative manner. We would be looked down upon and judged for what we were — or weren’t — wearing. Other children and even some teachers might treat us as less-than, and our sense of self-esteem and belonging would be poorly impacted. My mom realized that these things would all work together to the detriment of our success in school.

Our Back To School Funds provides children with resources to not only go to school, but feel good while they are there.

Decades have passed since our family endured those hardships, yet the situation I described absolutely exists today, perhaps greater than at any other time. In many of the communities where Children Incorporated operates and provides its sponsorship programs, devoted parents struggle to provide for their children’s daily needs. Unlike my mom and dad, who were always able to secure jobs — even if they were low paying positions — and bring in enough money to somehow make ends meet, jobs are quite scarce in many areas of our country, so working for a living is not always a viable option.  Additionally, everyday expenses these days far outweigh what one can earn from working at a fast food restaurant or clerking at a dollar variety store. For those families with multiple children, the cost of childcare alone is often greater than the limited salaries earned by the primary breadwinners. Just providing the basics for everyday living is a huge challenge; thus, the idea of back-to-school shopping and new clothes for a fresh school year is little more than a distant dream.

Making things a little easier

Children still need to belong. They still need to fit in. They still need to have strong self-esteem to thrive and succeed in school.  What they wear and how they feel about themselves in those clothes matters. That is why our Back To School Fund is so very important. The items we provide to impoverished children and youth put them on an equal, or at least increased, playing field with others. We take the funds you provide and use them to make going back to school perhaps a little easier, fitting in less of a challenge, and concentrating on learning — as opposed to focusing on being set apart — the primary goal of the students. Additionally, our Back To School Fund also provides school supplies and educational assistance where needed.

Your generosity now, in support of our Back To School Fund, will allow us to get assistance out to our network of volunteer coordinators ahead of the upcoming school year, so that they can be ready to meet the needs of children and youth as they return to classes in the fall. Your help is requested and much-needed. Please consider making a donation to our Back To School Fund today.



Education, Stories of Hope

written by Ron Carter

Ron Carter is President and CEO of Children Incorporated. He is responsible for overseeing all operations of Children Incorporated, with a specific goal of honoring the original vision and mission of our founder, Jeanne Clarke Wood, who established the organization in 1964.

» more of Ron's stories