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Seven Ways We Help Children in the United States

Children Incorporated frequently asks our on-site volunteer coordinators at our affiliated projects what services the children they work with are in need of most. As members of the kids’ communities, our coordinators are in contact with our sponsored and unsponsored children and their families on a daily basis, and are in the best position to know exactly what they need.

Listed below are some of their most common responses, which we hope will help you to better understand how your donations to Children Incorporated change the lives of children and families in the United States.

Enabling literacy

Many of the children we serve have little to no reading material at home.

Many of the children we serve have little to no reading material at home; they don’t personally own any books, nor do they have magazine subscriptions. Additionally, many schools are so underfunded that their libraries and classrooms have extremely limited selections for reading and old titles. Your donations will put books in kids’ hands; your contributions will foster their imaginations and a love for reading.

One of our recent initiatives includes providing a school in the Navajo Nation with a large selection of picture and early reader books on their native culture and language. We also help kids participate in their school book fairs by letting them have books of their own to take home at no cost to their families.

Providing enrichment and remediation

Our children have amazing potential – but some of them need extra academic help. They may come from homes in which their parents have little education, and are unable to help them with their homework. Many kids have never been out of their communities, but their parents can’t afford to pay for field trips. Your gifts will help to provide for summer and after-school programs that offer tutoring and a variety of stimulating educational activities.

In the past, we funded a program at a summer camp that focused on social studies in a structured yet fun way. These summer camp students had performed very poorly in the subject of social studies at the school they attended, as documented in pretests. At the end of the summer, however, the same kids were tested again, and their scores had improved significantly.

Supporting career awareness and higher education

Our children have amazing potential – but some of them need extra academic help. They may come from homes in which their parents have little education, and are unable to help them with their homework.

As children grow up, they need hope for their futures. Many have no idea about all the possibilities they have in life, as young people with potential bright futures ahead of them. Your donations will go towards helping them with vital programs in their pre-teen and teenage years, like job and career fairs, internships, and the provision of equipment or supplies needed for vocational courses. Once our teens graduate from high school, they may apply for our Higher Education Program.

We have provided goggles for welding courses, and have funded an entrepreneur course. We are currently assisting several graduating sponsored and unsponsored children with the costs associated with technical schools, community colleges, colleges, and universities.

Providing access to healthcare

Many of the public schools with which we affiliate are underfunded and underequipped. Our coordinators need a variety of items to keep children healthy. These articles range from underwear for kindergarten accidents to antibiotic ointment and bandages for cuts and scrapes; from soap and shampoo to toothbrushes and toothpaste for kids who have run out of these items at home. We work to help keep children clean and healthy, so that they can attend school regularly, and are able to learn.

Providing weather-appropriate items and outfits

Low-income parents make hard decisions every day about how to spend their money, and what their families will have to go without: Do they pay the electric bill or replace their daughter’s split shoes? If the power goes out or is turned off, does their son have a warm blanket on his bed to keep him comfortable and healthy? Our coordinators have told us about kids taking turns going to school because there is only one winter coat to wear in the family. Many children miss school in bad weather due to inadequate clothing, lowered immunity, and illnesses resulting from not having these basic necessities. Your donations will provide these kids with the items that our coordinators feel are most needed.

Preventing hunger

Many kids have never been out of their communities, but their parents can’t afford to pay for field trips.

Food insufficiency occurs when a child and their family don’t always have enough to eat. School children have access to the National School Lunch Program. What about when these kids are at home, though? The federal food stamp program, now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), is an important resource. Amounts provided to families must be strictly managed, however, and many families run out of assistance before they are allotted a subsequent installment.

Other family groups, like grandparents raising grandchildren, are sometimes too proud to ask for government aid. Our coordinators tell us that a significant number of the kids enrolled in our program have inadequate food at their homes, especially on weekends and during school breaks. As a result, our coordinators will often identify the children with the greatest need, and on Fridays, send them home with food-stuffed backpacks; and extra provisions are provided for breaks, as funds permit. Not only is food insufficiency detrimental to the health of these children, but it also correlates with academic and psychosocial difficulties – so these kids truly require all the nutritional assistance that can be provided to them.

Helping children to be active and grow up healthy

With school budgets slashed, many schools have reduced or eliminated physical education as part of their standard curriculum. School playgrounds in the most underfunded districts usually have broken, rusted, or no playground equipment; and impoverished parents must prioritize paying bills over providing for activities. Playtime is vital for children’s physical and emotional health, though; research shows that playing is linked to healthy brain growth. Donations to our Hope In Action Fund will support playground refurbishment, as well as the implementation of programs and the purchase of toys that promote physical activity, as determined by our coordinators.

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HOW CAN I SUPPORT CHILDREN IN THE UNITED STATES?

You can contribute to support children in the United States in one of three ways: call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members; email us at sponsorship@children-inc.org; or go online to our donation portal, create an account, and donate to one of our many special funds.

The History of Our U.S. Programs

We are very proud of our U.S. Programs, which support children not only in rural areas of the United States, but in urban areas as well. Just as all organizations do, we started out small, with only a few affiliated projects; and we gradually added more over time.

When Children Incorporated began in 1964, our focus was on one country in particular: Guatemala. Soon, we started to offer assistance in the United States, too. By the late 1960s, our U.S. Programs Division consisted of one site in Menifee, Kentucky, one site in Rutledge, Tennessee, and a few sites near Farmington, New Mexico. Just twenty years later, we encompassed two divisions in four states: an Appalachian Division in North Carolina; and a Native American Division in Arizona, New Mexico, and North Dakota. The organization lost its connections with sites in Kentucky, Tennessee, and North Dakota after a while. By the late 1980s, we had expanded to 32 projects total in North Carolina, Arizona, and New Mexico.

Growing fast

During the mid to late 1990s, our U.S. Programs Division experienced its greatest growth period. Appalachian affiliations were initiated in West Virginia and southwestern Virginia. The organization began to focus on the state of Kentucky again, and we developed a partnership with Family Resource and Youth Services Centers (FRYSC). By partnering with these centers, Children Incorporated was able to expand our program throughout many counties in Eastern Kentucky. Our Native American Division simultaneously began making affiliations in South Dakota and Utah.

Today, we affiliate with 147 projects in New Mexico, Arizona, West Virginia, Virginia, Michigan, North Carolina, Louisiana, Kentucky, and in Washington, D.C. to help thousands of children in the United States every day.

Addressing urban and rural poverty

By the early 2000s, the need for our program in urban areas became apparent; so Children Incorporated decided to tackle the issue head-on. After focusing on rural poverty during much of our history, we felt the need to address and respond to urban poverty. By partnering with Communities In Schools (CIS), a school dropout prevention program that works in public school systems in the United States, we were able to expand our outreach even further, and assist children in Washington, D.C.; Detroit; Richmond, Virginia; and New Orleans.

Today, we affiliate with 147 projects in New Mexico, Arizona, West Virginia, Virginia, Michigan, North Carolina, Louisiana, Kentucky, and in Washington, D.C. to help thousands of children in the United States every day, by providing them with basic needs so they can attend school, obtain an education, and have the opportunities they deserve and need to succeed in life.

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HOW DO I SPONSOR A CHILD IN THE UNITED STATES?

You can sponsor a child in the United States in one of three ways: call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members; email us at sponsorship@children-inc.org; or go online to our donation portal, create an account, and search for a child in the United States who is available for sponsorship.

Beyond Sponsorship

We meet a wide array of needs for children and their families through our Hope In Action Fund, which provides support outside of sponsorship. From providing aid in the wake of emergencies to supporting weekend and summer feeding programs, individual, one-­time donations to this special fund really go a long way. They support income-generating projects, and they go towards the construction of homes and schools – and even medical clinics at our affiliated projects. As a way to show our appreciation for your support, we want to share just some of the many amazing accomplishments we were able to make in 2017, thanks to your contributions to our Hope In Action Fund.

Helping kids in the united states

Last year, our Hope In Action Fund provided continued assistance for a combined College/Career Awareness and Parent Resource Program at our affiliated project Carr Creek Elementary School in Kentucky. The fund also aided our volunteer coordinator at Lucy Ellen Moten Elementary School in Washington, D.C. in the development of a mentoring program. Thanks to your contributions, we were able to provide additional resources in New Orleans, Louisiana, which included aid for an after-school program, uniforms for children whose families could not afford them, and 500 books distributed at three literacy events during the year to increase a love of reading and to help build the home libraries of 500 children.

Kids in Kentucky have benefited greatly from our Hope In Action Fund.

Our Hope In Action Fund also provided backpacks and school supplies for “Readifests” at several of our Kentucky schools to support kids at the start of the school year. Funds enabled the entire student body of Bevins Elementary School in Kentucky, including children enrolled in our program, to benefit from an educational drug awareness and personal resiliency program. Additionally, our Hope In Action Fund provided opportunities for our sponsored and unsponsored children at Sparta Elementary School in North Carolina to attend cultural and educational performances outside of their community – experiences that they otherwise would not have had.

Donations also offered disaster relief for children impacted by serious flooding in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Thanks to you, we were able to provide canned hams, canned vegetables, and boxed food for Thanksgiving for children at our newest project in Richmond, Virginia, E.S.H. Greene Elementary School. We were also able to pay for a young girl in Kentucky to have a much-needed eye exam, and to replace her broken glasses, improving her vision so that she’d have less difficulty keeping up in class.

Thanks to you, we were able to establish a weekend feeding program at Shonto Preparatory School in Arizona on the Navajo Reservation, as well as provide assistance for a partial denture for a high school student in Kentucky who suffered an accident that caused him to lose his four front teeth. We were also able to address food insecurity by supporting weekend feeding programs and monthly markets of fresh fruits and vegetables at our four affiliated projects in Washington, D.C. We assisted three children enrolled in our program at Piney Creek Elementary School in North Carolina to attend and participate in the Junior Beta Club State Convention in Greensboro.

We couldn’t help with such simple but powerful things without our sponsors’ and donors’ contributions to our Hope In Action Fund.

Our Hope In Action Fund also provided a complete professional outfit for a high-achieving student at Greyhills Academy High School in Arizona so that she could advance and compete in the Navajo Nation Science Fair in Window Rock. Donations gave us the ability to help a little boy at Johns Creek Elementary School in Kentucky to be transported to and from the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Ohio, by providing funds for gas and food, so that he could undergo additional procedures following his open-heart surgery.

Donations enabled 25 children at Johnson County Middle School in Paintsville, Kentucky, including children enrolled in our program, to attend and learn at the Summer Scrubs Camp at the Highlands Regional Medical Center in Prestonsburg. Additionally, we were able to purchase playground equipment for the kids at G.H. Reid Elementary School in Richmond, Virginia.

Supporting kids internationally

Outside of the United States, last year, our Hope In Action Fund provided over a thousand pairs of new shoes to children in need in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. We also made a contribution to the Materi Girls’ School in Meru, Kenya for the purchase of food for the families of the children who attend, who were suffering due to a terrible drought. We provided support to Guarderia El Angel in Santa Cruz, Bolivia to pay a few teachers’ salaries when the center lost funding from its local municipality. We also completed eight housing units near our affiliated project Villa Emilia in Bolivia to help the mothers of children enrolled in our program, who were formerly living on the streets.

We couldn’t help with such simple but powerful things without our sponsors’ and donors’ contributions to our Hope In Action Fund. Every contribution impacts a specific child or family – and oftentimes, it is life-changing for them. We are incredibly grateful that we have the ability to provide for children and their families beyond sponsorship, especially in circumstances that are dire, and in which they have nowhere else to turn for help. Thanks to you, thousands of children and their families are getting the support they need every year.

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HOW DO I CONTRIBUTE TO THE HOPE IN ACTION FUND?

You can contribute to our Hope In Action Fund in one of three ways: call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members; email us at sponsorship@children-inc.org; or go online to our donation portal, create an account, and donate to our Hope In Action Fund.

Moved Beyond Measure

When International Student Exchange (ISE) contacted me in the fall of 2016 and said that they had chosen Children Incorporated to be their domestic philanthropic partner for the coming year, I was pleasantly surprised. ISE is a high school exchange program that brings together people from around the world, fostering cross-cultural learning. Under the leadership of their Chief Executive Officer, Wayne Brewer, they have been positively impacting the lives of children worldwide for in excess of 35 years.

Mr. Carter with ISE representatives in Madrid, Spain

Mr. Brewer, along with Tal Stanecky, who serves as Senior Program Advisor at ISE, selected Children Incorporated from among many other organizations due to the transparency we exhibit, and the fact that such a high percentage of our funding is used to benefit children and families. “Children Incorporated was so appealing,” said Mr. Stanecky, “because of its ability to adapt and tailor its services to children all around the world. The donations being given to the charity were really going to the people who needed it the most.”

This past November, I traveled to Madrid, Spain as a guest of ISE, and while there, I met many of the wonderful people who make up that special organization. I met and interacted not only with directors and board members, but also with representatives and field workers – those who toil within small towns and large cities across America to find host families for exchange students who wish to come to the United States and learn more about our social, economic, and political systems.

Over a five-day period, I shared many warm conversations and lots of laughter with these incredible people, and I returned to the United States with a true sense of awe and appreciation not only for the people of ISE, but also for the organization as whole.

Donations already at work

“The donations being given to the charity were really going to the people who needed it the most.”

While in Spain, International Student Exchange presented me with a very generous monetary contribution for Children Incorporated, with the very specific purpose of assisting us as we improve the lives of U.S. children over the coming months. Renée Kube, Director of our U.S. Programs Division, has been hard at work overseeing the first distributions of the ISE funds. Thus far, Children Incorporated has purchased laptop computers for a residential school in Huerfano, New Mexico; provided building supplies for an outdoor reading center in Pinon, Arizona; and obtained the necessary materials to lay an Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant sidewalk for wheelchair-bound students at a special education school in St. Michaels, Arizona.

Additionally, backpack feeding programs and monthly fresh foods markets have been funded in our nation’s capital of Washington, D.C. In the small community of Glade Creek, North Carolina, an after-school program based on cultural enrichment and music lessons for students is now a reality, in part thanks to funds received from ISE – and much more will be accomplished as the direct result of their kindness and generosity.

I wish to express my heartfelt gratitude to ISE for recognizing the life-changing work that Children Incorporated regularly accomplishes. Furthermore, I want to thank them for entrusting us with funds that will provide education, hope, and opportunity to many children and young people this year and in years to come, as our partnership continues. Children Incorporated is honored to be associated with a fine organization like ISE – and I, personally, am moved beyond measure.

From the heart,

Ronald H. Carter
President and Chief Executive Officer
Children Incorporated

Making Memories with Back to School Shopping

According to the National Retail Federation, last year’s back to school shopping reached $27 million. It is the second largest shopping season for retailers, after the winter holidays. In fact, the beginning of a new school year is a little like Christmas; the children are excited, and everything is shiny and new. But just like during the holiday season, many families wince at the economic pinch they feel as fall approaches, having to stock up on school supplies for their children at the close of summer break.

Receiving new school supplies at the beginning of the school year helps sponsored children feel ready to learn!

The Pride of Having New Shoes

Most of us have fond memories of back to school shopping – the happiness of opening a new box of crayons, with their bright colors, waxy smell, and perfect pointy tips; the fun of choosing spiral-bound notebooks with your favorite movie or television characters; the pride of having new shoes. However, for impoverished parents and guardians, these are memories they can’t afford to make with their children.

Over the years, as I have traveled to our affiliated schools in the United States and talked with our dedicated volunteer coordinators, I have often heard that back to school time is difficult, and often very stressful for the families in the communities we serve.

Our Back to School Fund helps kids, especially those still waiting hopefully for sponsors of their own, to experience the happiness of getting the things they need to have a great start to the school year.

When a summer electric bill is due or food stamps have run out, or the old car needs a repair so you can get to your part time job at the mini mart on time, getting your child new clothing and supplies for school is something that gets moved to the back of the line. And if there is a big brother or sister who needs new clothes and supplies as well, then the cost has doubled. These items may be essential for kids, but they can also be impossible for parents to afford.

We know that receiving a new outfit and school supplies provides concrete benefits above and beyond confidence and self-esteem – these items help kids stay on track to attend school regularly and to keep up with their classmates. Giving them the tools to learn sets them up for success for the entire school year.

Our Back to School Fund helps our coordinators stock cabinets full of supplies for children for when they return to school from summer break.

Wanting to Fit In

In addition to poverty, many of the children we serve are also dealing with some kind of trauma. The family situation may be chaotic and unhappy. Yet, while coping with poverty and instability, the children in our program want to look and feel just like any other kid. They want to fit in. Imagine the joy on a little girl’s face when she receives a new backpack emblazoned with Disney princesses, when she has never had a new book bag to start school; for once, she feels “normal”.

In the midst of their struggles, Children Incorporated and our caring sponsors and donors serve as a safety net. Our Back to School Fund helps kids, especially those still waiting hopefully for sponsors of their own, to experience the happiness of getting the things they need to have a great start to the school year. Your contributions will bring happiness, hope, and success to many children in need.

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HOW DO I DONATE TO THE BACK TO SCHOOL FUND?

You can donate to the Back to School Fund in one of two ways – call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members, or go online to our donation portal, create an account, and donate to the Back to School Fund.

My Sponsor Story: Appreciating the Sweetness in Life

After hearing story after story from her friend Hilary about child sponsorship through Children Incorporated, Kathy Niles decided she wanted to sponsor a child of her own. Little did she know that sponsorship would lead to unforgettable travels with her friend, getting to know several children – and an even deeper understanding of and appreciation for Native American culture.

We caught up with Kathy to find out about her experiences as a child sponsor, and about the impact those moments have had on her life.

SC: Tell us a little about yourself.

Kathy’s sponsored child in Arizona

KN: My home is in Ashaway, Rhode Island, and I am 64 years old. I have two children of my own, and was a single mom for most of their childhoods. I held several manufacturing jobs off and on, but finally started my own cleaning business fifteen years ago, of which I am the only employee.

It hasn’t been an easy road for me – especially career-wise. My grandmother used to say, “You have to have the bitter to appreciate the sweet!” The bitter can be very hard; but in many cases, it forms the mold in which one becomes stronger, more caring, and driven to work harder to succeed.

 SC: How did you get involved with Children Incorporated?

KN: I learned about Children Incorporated through a friend of mine, Hilary, who was sponsoring a child in Appalachia. So in 2007, I sponsored my first child, Joel*, who attended the same school as Hilary’s sponsored child – and Hilary and I traveled to the school together to spend the day there and visit our sponsored children. It’s something any sponsor should do if they have the opportunity, because it was so rewarding, and I felt very blessed to have been able to visit the project.

In 2011, Joel moved to a different area, and that’s when I started sponsoring Chelsea* – and I have been sponsoring her ever since!

Hilary’s stories of Children Incorporated made me want to do something for a child in need; I didn’t have grandchildren, so I figured I would spend my money on sponsorship. And I decided that I would like to have the chance to help a child get ahead, and to have the chance to fight through their struggles to go on to college and better themselves.

SC: How many children have you sponsored through Children Incorporated?

I decided that I would like to have the chance to help a child get ahead, and to have the chance to fight through their struggles to go on to college and better themselves.

KN: I followed Hilary’s lead and started sponsoring children on the Navajo Reservation, too. Some of them have moved away, so I have had a few different ones there; but I don’t want stop sponsoring there, because I feel bad for these kids that need help.

SC: When you signed up, did you specify preferences for your sponsored child?

KN:
Yes – originally, I wanted a sponsored child in Appalachia; I started sponsoring in the Navajo Reservation when I decided to add an additional sponsorship.

I visited the Shonto Preparatory School in Arizona with Hilary, who was traveling there to see her sponsored child graduate high school. It was a very inspirational, rewarding experience for me. In this world stricken with poverty and strife, there is a strong family bond that I noticed, and we were welcomed and accepted – even as minorities.

That’s when I decided to sponsor a Native American child, too. I just recently received information on a new child there, and I am hoping that this will be a lasting relationship, for as long as she is in the school.

Kathy also sponsors a young girl in Kentucky.

SC: Is there anything more you can tell us about the projects you have visited?

KN: The volunteers at the schools are people that give of their time, hearts, and souls to help.

SC: Please tell us about the children you currently sponsor.

KN: Chelsea in Appalachia is fifteen and in the tenth grade; she lives with her mom and four sisters, two brothers, and some cats. She likes playing games, and is good at building things – and not surprisingly, she wants to be a mechanical engineer when she grows up!

I would love to be able to go to her high school graduation; that is my goal. And I would love for my kids to join me when I do. I pray that Chelsea continues to do well, and that she finds a special interest that she can pursue for her future. She is a beautiful young woman; I always get a new picture of her every year.

And Cari* in the Navajo Reservation is also in the tenth grade, and enjoys studying global issues in school. She likes to listen to music, and she’s good at singing; she especially likes the music of singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran. She lives with her mom, and has two brothers and one sister – and she wants to be a veterinarian when she grows up!

SC: Do you communicate with them regularly?

KN: Yes – I send them packages and letters. I send Chelsea money for her birthday, back to school, Christmas, and sometimes in the spring. I also buy her school supplies and hygiene articles; and I know she likes to read, so I have gotten her a gift card to Barnes and Noble. And every once in a while, I get a thank-you note from her, and it always touches my heart!

SC: What do you know about Arizona?

For those who can afford to help, I strongly suggest that you give to a child in need. It can and will make a huge difference in their lives and in their future; it will help mold them into strong individuals.

It was an eye-opener to go to Arizona and see children in their native regalia, and to hear children speaking their native language; it was beautiful!

SC: Is there any advice you might have for someone considering sponsoring a child?

KN: Children Incorporated is a great program, and it has helped many. For those who can afford to help, I strongly suggest that you give to a child in need. It can and will make a huge difference in their lives and in their future; it will help mold them into strong individuals.

I pray that my help has touched each one of these children that I have at some point given to.

*Names changed for children’s protection.

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HOW DO I SPONSOR A CHILD IN APPALACHIA?

You can sponsor a child in Appalachia in one of two ways: call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our Sponsorship Specialists, or email us at sponsorship@children-inc.org.

 HOW DO I HELP CHILDREN IN ARIZONA?

You can help children in Arizona in one of two ways – our Hope In Action Fund provides for children in special cases, such as in emergencies, and when special items, like eyeglasses, mattresses, and bedding are needed. Our Warm Clothing Fund and our Back to School Fund support children in the Navajo Nation as well.