Tag Archives: back to school

Our Back to School Fund Offers More Than Just School Supplies to Children in Need

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.

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Our Spring 2021 Newsletter

We are happy to share with you our Spring 2021 Newsletter, highlighting our work around the world thanks to our sponsors and donors and their generosity and dedication in helping children in need. Enjoy!

Tablets Are Bringing Education to Children Around the World

Many children in our sponsorship program are experiencing exceptional difficulties during the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, as schools have had to shift to virtual learning. These adjustments have been hard on parents, teachers and children — especially for those students who don’t have the technology they need at home to keep up with their course work.

We are happy to share with you our Spring 2021 Newsletter, highlighting our work around the world thanks to our sponsors and donors and their generosity and dedication in helping children in need. Enjoy!

Thankfully, because of our amazing donors, Children Incorporated has been able to provide tablets to children in our program in Latin America, India, and in the United States over the last few months so that children can continue learning until schools are back to in-person learning in the near future. These tablets will allow students to keep up with their studies and do not have to be returned when classes resume so children can keep learning at home after the pandemic as well!

Bringing Joy to Children During the Holiday Season

Our sponsors and donors are often the only reason children in our program receive holiday gifts, and for that, we are incredibly grateful — especially after an exceptionally difficult year for so many families.

On behalf of all our volunteer coordinators around the world, we would like to share a message from Sandy at Beaver Creek Elementary in Kentucky to express our gratitude for the holiday gifts you provided:

“Thank you for all the support you give our children. You are our backbone. We couldn’t survive without Children Incorporated. Merry Christmas to all Children Incorporated staff and sponsors!”

Our Warm Clothing Fund Brings Smiles to Children in Need

Brain poses for the camera with this new clothes.

Every year, your donations to our Warm Clothing Fund do more than just keep children properly clothed — it also brings immense joy to children who otherwise might never get new winter clothes.

Our volunteer coordinator, Monica, at Gouge Elementary School in North Carolina wrote to us about Brian*, after she provided him with warm clothes, thanks to his sponsor: 

“I showed Brian the new clothes I bought him, and he is loving it. He said, ‘I just love clothes!’ And I took the picture in that moment. The mask is hiding his laughter. We both got tickled because he got so much clothes, he couldn’t hold all of it.  The socks are in his book bag.

This was definitely the highlight of my week. Thanks to Children Incorporated sponsors for all you do, and for letting me be a part of this!”

*Name changed to protect the child.

 An Interview with Board Member, Liz Collins

Our President and Chief Executive Officer, Ron Carter, recently sat down with our Board Chair, Liz Collins, to discuss her long and valuable relationship with Children Incorporated.

RON: Liz, you first became involved with Children Incorporated in 2003 when you accepted a job as a sponsorship coordinator. You later served as Director of Marketing and Development. What are your recollections of your time as an employee of Children Incorporated?

I loved being able to share all of the amazing work that went on in our programs with our donors.  As a result of their giving and the tireless efforts of our volunteer coordinators, we changed a lot of lives.

Liz Collins, Board Chair

LIZ:  I loved being able to share all of the amazing work that went on in our programs with our donors.  As a result of their giving and the tireless efforts of our volunteer coordinators, we changed a lot of lives.

RON: Do you have any special memories of that time?

LIZ: I do. The stories of the children who graduated from high school and went on to college are special to me. I recall one particular story of how we were able to send funds to have a child’s driveway paved so that he could use his wheelchair to get to the bus. Before that, his brother had to carry him down the driveway to the bus each day. I also think about the incredible artwork of Roberto Andrade, one of the children in Latin America who benefitted from our program. There are so many more wonderful  memories!

RON: You left Children Incorporated in 2010, shortly after your son, Noah, was born, but I asked you to return to Children Incorporated as Board Member at the start of 2015, and you willingly agreed.  Just a few months after you joined, Steve Holton, our then chair, was forced to resign due to health reasons, and you were selected as Board Chair. In your wildest dreams, did you ever see that coming?

LIZ: No! I was truly taken by surprise with the sudden turn of events, but honored and humbled to be able to serve the organization in a new way.

RON: As Board Chair, what are your impressions of Children Incorporated? What are you most proud of? What is it about Children Incorporated that you most value?

LIZ: Children Incorporated might be among the smaller sponsorship organizations, but it is by far the most personable. That’s what I love, and I truly believe our donors and volunteer coordinators value that attribute as well. We’re transparent in our funding, and we’re extremely conscientious about our overhead so that much more of every dollar raised can go to the children, families, and communities we serve.

RON: I agree that our personality as an organization, as well as our transparency, are the keys to our continued success. But I also have to say that we have a wonderful network of volunteer coordinators, and our small but loyal staff really is incredible.

Emily was very excited to receive school supplies thanks to her sponsor.

LIZ: Yes, I agree completely. That old saying “It takes a village” really applies. That is how I see Children Incorporated. The staff, our donors, and the volunteer coordinators, all working together, make it all happen. And, it’s a village I’m very proud to be a part of and to serve in.

Still in Need of Ordinary School Supplies  

School closures have meant big changes for families and children in our program, but despite the adjustments that the pandemic required, students still need the most basic items that Children Incorporated has always provided for them.

While many of our sponsored children are learning remotely at home, either partially or wholly, they still need ordinary school supplies, especially the younger ones. Emily*, received a bundle of new supplies at home thanks to her sponsor and promptly wrote to him to say that she loved everything — especially the dry erase board and matching magnets. From her photos, you can see that Emily’s sponsor has made her  incredibly happy as she adjusts to home learning!

*Name changed to protect the child.

A Special Thank You to Our Partner, the Jeunesse Kids Foundation

 In January 2021, we were approached by the Jeunesse Kids Foundation to participate in a fundraiser they were hosting virtually. Jeunesse Kids is dedicated to creating a positive impact in the lives of children worldwide, and the foundation is funded and supported by a vast community of caring individuals who are passionate about building a better tomorrow for young people in underprivileged communities around the world — which very closely aligns with Children Incorporated’s mission and vision.

We are very proud of you, Kris!

Thanks to the efforts of all of the Juenesse Family, their fundraiser raised over $102,000 for Children Incorporated from donors around the world over the course of a weekend which will go towards purchasing tablets for virtual education children in Peru, Argentina, the Philippines, Kentucky and New Mexico, repairing a greenhouse at the St. Michaels Special Education School in Arizona, and towards expanding on skills training programs at the Montero School in Bolivia. We are incredibly grateful for their support!

From Sponsored Child to Attorney: Our Higher Education Fund at Work

We want to send our congratulations to Kris in Honduras for receiving her University Degree at the end of 2020. Kris has been in our sponsorship program since 1999. Thanks to her sponsor and our Higher Education Fund, she was able to attend school over the last twenty years and now has graduated as an attorney. We are very proud of you, Kris!

A New Roof at the Dandora Center in Kenya

While students were out of school for remote learning, we were able to continue to support our projects thanks to donations to our Hope In Action Fund so administrators could repair buildings in anticipation of the return of students in the near future.

At our affiliated project, the Dandora Center in Nairobi, Kenya, a new roof replaced an old worn one which will protect the children from poor weather and heat when they are back in classrooms.

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Taking Care of Her Own

We are fortunate that we often get news from our volunteer coordinators that really brightens our days.

Today, our Director of U.S. Programs, Renée Kube, shares a  sweet story about two brothers who were recently enrolled in our sponsorship program and are waiting for sponsors.

Today, our Director of U.S. Programs, Renée Kube, shares a  sweet story from our volunteer coordinator, Genevieve, about two brothers, Brandon and Alex*, who were recently enrolled in our sponsorship program and are waiting for sponsors.

A story about Brandon and Alex

“Genevieve called the other day and wanted to tell me about the boys’ stepmom, Patricia,” said Renée.

“Brandon is in second grade and Alex is in first. These brothers are hard of hearing, and neither speaks. They have a special teacher for the hearing impaired, and they can sign. Their mother abandoned the family when the boys were very young, and their single father was struggling to raise them. In order to care for his children, the boys’ father hired a babysitter to care for his sons so he could work, a young woman who he knew through extended family.”

The family’s home in Kentucky

“It’s not too surprising that after talking daily about the boys’ well-being and progress, their father and the babysitter grew close, and eventually they fell in love and got married. Now they have a little one of their own!” exclaimed Renée.

“I was so happy to hear this amazing story, but Genevieve saves the best for last. Before we ended our call, she told me that the boys’ stepmother, Patricia, is actually a former sponsored child from the Children Incorporated program!”

“Although they now have two loving and responsible parents, their family continues to struggle. The father lost his restaurant job after it cut staff due to the pandemic. So, they are really struggling now, and getting sponsors for the boys, Brandon and Alex, will be a big and appreciated help.”

“We love heartwarming stories such as this and would love to get these boys sponsored as soon as possible. We love that our program often comes around full circle for families and communities and especially in difficult times such as these, we are so pleased to be able to share special stories such as this one,” said Renée.

Please contact us directly today if you would like to sponsor Brandon or Alex today!

*Names changed to protect the individuals. 

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How do I sponsor a child in Kentucky?

You can sponsor a child in Kentucky 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 sponsorship portal, create an account, and search for a child in Kentucky that is available for sponsorship.

SPONSOR A CHILD

Thanks to You, Children Are Receiving Brand New Shoes

Joseph*, like many of our sponsored children, is being raised by his grandmother.

Joseph and his siblings live in Arizona and were abandoned by their mother after their father died. Suddenly, Joseph’s paternal grandmother found herself raising children again with no income and no means to support them. She can scarcely provide food and shelter for her grandkids, and she has virtually no money to keep them clothed properly. Thankfully, Joseph has a caring sponsor who provides him with the items he needs as he rapidly grows into a young man.

Joseph with his new shoes.

Recently, our volunteer coordinator at Joseph’s school called him into her office to present him with brand new shoes, along with other items he needed. Joseph is young and plays hard, and his old shoes were badly worn. Joseph was ecstatic, and proudly stood for a photo of him with his new shoes.

Thank you for all that you do to make sure children’s basic needs are met each and every day! We are incredibly grateful for your support.

*Name changed to protect the child.

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Sponsoring a child in Arizona

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

The sponsorship relationship enables a sponsor to help support a needy child through monthly contributions, and through the exchange of correspondence with a sponsored child, if the sponsor so desires. A sponsor’s friendship and encouragement is priceless to a child in such circumstances. Indeed, many children value the relationships they establish with their sponsors as much as they value the financial support they receive from them. There is an opportunity to build a relationship between sponsor and child that can be quite profound.

Our current monthly sponsorship rate is $30, and it goes toward providing basic necessities such as school supplies and fees, food, clothing, and access to healthcare, among other services.

SPONSOR A CHILD

Pride in Her Students

For years, Catlettsburg, where our affiliated projects Catlettsburg Elementary and Ponderosa Elementary Schools are located, was known as “The Gate City” because it was here that barges were loaded with coal to be shipped down the Ohio River to other ports.

Although the children may come from strikingly different economic backgrounds, that doesn’t change how they interact with one other.

The decline of the coal industry in Kentucky and West Virginia has severely diminished the city’s economic importance, and commerce is now minimal. Today, this area of Boyd County, Kentucky suffers from high rates of both poverty and illiteracy, since a significant number of adults have never completed high school.

These social and economic problems negatively affect even the youngest members of Catlettsburg, which is why both Ponderosa and Catlettsburg Elementary serve as bright and welcoming places for children to learn and escape some of the harsh realities they face at home.

The Haves and Have Nots

The school administration posts messages of inspiration for their students.

While visiting the two schools, our Director of U.S. Programs, Renée Kube, met with our volunteer coordinator, Jenny. Jenny oversees the resource centers at both schools, ensuring that children — including sponsored and unsponsored children in our program — are receiving basic needs throughout the school year.

During their meeting, Jenny explained to Renée that because Boyd County is located in a very rural and beautiful part of the country, Catlettsburg has become a popular place for middle and upper-class families to build homes. Jenny feels that because of this migration, the student population is divided more conspicuously into the “haves and have nots.”

Although the children may come from strikingly different economic backgrounds, that doesn’t change how they interact with one other.

While the administration, faculty and staff of the schools may know which families struggle and which do not, Jenny says the students are very close and treat each other with kindness and respect.

Additionally, as a tight-knit group, the children are more than willing to come together to help other students in need — even those that are far away.

Additionally, as a tight-knit group, the children are more than willing to come together to help other students in need — even those that are far away.

Rising to a challenge

Before their meeting ended, Jenny told Renée a story expressing how much pride she had in her students.

In 2018, the deadly Camp Fire burned down much of the town of Paradise, California — including a school also named Ponderosa Elementary School. Not long after the fire, the principal of Ponderosa Elementary School in Catlettsburg was informed about a nationwide fundraiser through another Ponderosa Elementary School in Oregon.

The fundraiser, deemed “Pennies for Ponderosa Initiative” requested that the eleven schools named Ponderosa Elementary School in the United States collect donations for the rebuilding of the California school.

The children at Jenny’s school stepped up to the challenge. They not only raised money to help students on the other side of the country, but also sent video messages of hope and encouragement as they and their families worked to rebuild their lives.

Whether coming from an impoverished background or not, children at Ponderosa Elementary School showed that they were willing to do anything they could to help others in need — and that is something to be proud of.

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HOW DO I SPONSOR A CHILD IN KENTUCKY?

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

SPONSOR A CHILD

 

Two Schools, One Volunteer Coordinator

Fairview Independent School comprises two campuses, Fairview Elementary and Fairview High Schools, located just a few blocks apart from each other in the small community of Westwood, Kentucky.

Like many communities in Eastern Kentucky, Westwood has suffered significantly from the decline of the coal and steel mining industries that used to dominate this area.

At one point, Armco Steel employed the majority of the Westwood workforce and made it a prosperous town. Today, only 1300 employees remain at Armco, and poverty, high dropout rates and unemployment are now serious problems.

A beacon of hope for kids

Fairview Elementary School

Fairview Independent School serves as a welcome escape from poverty for this rural community. Many children from Westwood’s impoverished families look forward to school, where they receive a well-rounded education, two nutritious meals and the attention of a dedicated and caring staff including our volunteer coordinator, Ashley, and her assistant, Katrina.

Ashley and Katrina equally share the responsibilities of making sure that sponsored and unsponsored kids in our program are receiving the support they need from their sponsors.

“Ashley and Katrina work at both schools to support a lot of children. With a total enrollment of almost 800 students, they have a large caseload and are great at handling their jobs,” stated Renée.

According to our Director of U.S. Programs, Renée Kube, who recently visited the schools, Ashley and Katrina are different in appearance and manner, but work exceptionally well together and have a mutually agreeable and cooperative relationship.

“Ashley and Katrina work at both schools to support a lot of children. With a total enrollment of almost 800 students, they have a large caseload and are great at handling their jobs,” stated Renée.

“They are constantly seeking resources to assist the children and their families, and both told me that Children Incorporated is vital in what they do.”

Finding resources in the community

During their meeting, Ashley explained to Renée about how she and Katrina operate a Weekend Snack Bag Program during the school year and offer food boxes in June and July for families in need during summer break.

Thanks to donations to the Family Resource Center, Ashley and Katrina can provide clothes to children all year long.

They also receive assistance from two community churches and a local hospital.

Ashley and Katrina expressed that they usually do well with food provisions throughout the year thanks to help from the community, but if they run low, they won’t hesitate to reach out to Children Incorporated for emergency aid through our Hope In Action Program.

Meeting Cassandra

Renée had a chance to visit both the Fairview High and the Fairview Elementary Schools during her trip. It was apparent to her that the children were significantly affected by Ashley and Katrina’s dedication to the students. Additionally, the support children in our program were receiving from their sponsors was making a huge difference in the lives of these vulnerable kids.

Before leaving the elementary school, Ashley and Katrina introduced Renée to Cassandra*. Cassandra is one of three children in her family. Their single mother who works for low-wages at a restaurant is raising them. She often struggles to pay the bills. Ashley told Renée that Cassandra’s sponsor keeps clothes on her back and shoes on her feet.

*Name changed to protect the child.

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HOW DO I SPONSOR A CHILD IN KENTUCKY?

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

SPONSOR A CHILD