Tag Archives: children

Michael and Sandra Ruddick are a family that I have had the pleasure of spending time with over the last 20 years, although their support of our organization far exceeds the time that I have been with Children Incorporated. I recently took some time to ask them some questions about how they became dedicated donors and what drives them to continue to be involved in our work so many years later.

RC: You started with Children Incorporated in November 1980. Do you recall how you initially found us?  

Sandra: I saw a newspaper clipping about Children Incorporated when I was 20 years old. Jeanne Clarke Wood was the founder and director at the time. The small not for profit organization appealed to me since the children in the program were not orphans but had families whose parents needed a little financial assistance to help with some basic necessities and also with educating their children.

RC: And what led you to contact us and begin sponsoring with us?

Sandra: It was a long time ago, but I just remember wanting to help a child in a small way that could make a difference. It impressed me that a sponsored child in the program received most of the donation and only a small portion was used for the organization’s administrative overhead.

RC: You currently sponsor a dozen children with us. What do you find most rewarding about child sponsorship?

Sandra: Michael and I, along with our own children and our aunt, were warmly welcomed when we visited one of our sponsored children in Talca. Our own children took up a collection of Beanie Babies in their high school. We brought the Beanie Babies as well as school supplies with us on our visit. The children in the home each took their turn choosing a Beanie Baby and their excitement was touching. Although we cannot visit each of our sponsored children, we can imagine each child and their family’s appreciation of our sponsorship. 

“It impressed me that a sponsored child in the program received most of the donation and only a small portion was used for the organization’s administrative overhead.”

– Sandra Ruddick

RC: You’ve sponsored many children with us over the decades. Are there any specific children you’ve aided who stand out in your memory? 

Sandra: A girl named Monica was the first child I sponsored in Chile. I was able to visit Monica at one time. I was traveling with a girlfriend, and we were visiting two additional friends who lived in the Santiago area where they were doing missionary work. Monica’s family was gracious enough to invite us to have lunch with them.

RC: You’ve also supported a number of our special projects. How have you decided which projects to support, and what has the experience been like for you?

Sandra: We have supported projects Children Incorporated has identified as those of greatest need with strong local partners to help ensure the funds are well invested — things such as helping build a school in Honduras, funding a building project at the Visayan Center in the Philippines, and contributing to feeding and warm clothing funds. It’s gratifying to know our donations have made a difference in the lives of many.

RC: If you were asked to describe Children Incorporated in just a couple of sentences, what would you say?

Sandra: Though Children Incorporated is a small organization, their dedicated staff does much to improve the lives and futures of countless children around the world.

RC: Thank you so much for your time and all that you do for children, families and communities we support! 

***

HOW DO I SPONSOR A CHILD WITH CHILDREN INCORPORATED?

You can sponsor a child 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 that is available for sponsorship.

SPONSOR A CHILD

As I continued my trip to visit our affiliated sites in Martin County, Kentucky, I visited Eden Elementary School, where I had the chance to reconnect with our volunteer coordinator, Marlena, after a few years. She and her assistant, Kelli, welcomed me with open arms as I arrived to the resource center.

SEEING EDEN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

Marlena and Kelli are very appreciative of the Children Incorporated program, and I got the impression from them, as well as from the other Martin County coordinators, that our organization is able to help in ways other organizations are not able to. The resource center in Martin County really depends on Children Incorporated a great deal, and all of the coordinators say they would be lost without Children Incorporated support.

Hearing this made me that much more grateful for our sponsors and what they do for the children in our program.

During our meeting, Marlena shared that she is seeing an increase in severe poverty in her area. Many families live in literal shacks, and the number of household members in one home is sometimes astronomical. They recently learned of one child whose family consisted of sixteen people (both related and non-related), living in a small two-bedroom apartment. She also talked about the number of families living in dwellings without electricity and/or running water. Marlena stated that she thinks Martin County is about 20 years behind the rest of Kentucky in how people live. Hearing this made me that much more grateful for our sponsors and what they do for the children in our program.

Visiting Inez Elementary

Ron is pictured with one of our many sponsored children in Martin County, Kentucky.

I was warmly greeted by Andrea, the site coordinator at Inez Elementary School during my next school visit, along with a little girl named Sabrina.* Andrea brought Sabrina in at the start of our time together just so I could meet and speak with a Children Incorporated sponsored child. Sabrina was very sweet and talkative.

Andrea is very passionate about the children and families she serves, and she truly seems to care about their welfare. She stated that she believes the start of helping children to succeed is to make sure they have clean and comfortable places to sleep at home so that they may get proper rest. She said she could not even tell me the number of children who do not even have a pillow of their own. Andrea often provides beds, mattresses, pillows, and bedding to children in our sponsorship program, as well as others in the school who are in need. She said, “Ron, I can’t tell you the number of children that Children Incorporated has gotten up off of the floor!”

 Andrea talked about a program she started at Inez Elementary specifically for girls in fifth and sixth grades. She said she and others had noticed a lot of bullying and “mean girl” behavior among girls of this age, so they started a club that meets weekly to help break down barriers and teach the girls to be nicer to one another. The girls are encouraged to journal, and then during club meetings, they share their personal thoughts and insecurities. Andrea said that when the girls share openly like this, they reveal the ways they are all alike, and often it is a matter of the girls having low self-image and low self-value. She said that behaviors have improved a great deal since this program was begun.

As my trip came to an end, I found myself thinking just how impressed I was with all of these kind-hearted and warm people who truly care about the children they and we serve.

onward to Warfield Elementary

Next, I met with Amanda at Warfield Elementary School. She bragged quite a bit about the Planting Seeds of Love program that is implemented in all of the Martin County schools before she brought in one little girl for me to meet. Her name was Allison.* Allison was a friendly child and told me how much she has enjoyed the gardening program with her grandmother. She looks forward to spring when they can plant their garden together again.

All of the Martin County coordinators were enthusiastic about the Planting Seeds of Love program, and they all expressed extreme gratitude towards Children Incorporated sponsors and donors for help in funding that program. The coordinators said that parents and grandparents have been overwhelmingly supportive of planting and tending their own gardens and then canning their own vegetables for use in winter. Overall, the program has been a huge success, and the schools will all offer it again in the spring. The program not only provides food for these families, but it is also a big bonding opportunity for parents and children.

As my trip came to an end, I found myself thinking just how impressed I was with all of these kind-hearted and warm people who truly care about the children they and we serve.

*Names changed to protect the children. 

***

How do I sponsor a child with Children Incorporated?

You can sponsor a child 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 that is available for sponsorship.

SPONSOR A CHILD

As she continues her visit to our affiliated sites in New Mexico, our Director of U.S. Programs, Renée Kube, visits the Mariano Lake Community School where she meets with Barbara, our volunteer coordinator.

VISITING MARIANO LAKE

“During my visit, Barbara had just received Hope In Action Program funding based on a request where she told me she could use things for the dorm, primarily books and arts and craft supplies.”

“Mariano Lake Community School is located about 60 miles south-southwest of Lake Valley. Whereas the Lake Valley area is rocky and has become more arid, the Mariano Lake area has sandy soil and more vegetation. There are several types of grasses, as well as shrubby plants and bushes.”

“The eponymous lake is across the road, but is down a hilly area and is not readily visible from the school. At one time, people came from all over the area to fish, but now the lake is actually more of a marsh and is no longer suitable for fishing,” said Renée.

Barbara is pictured with one of our sponsored children at Mariano Lake Community School.

“This area was originally settled by the Navajo because of the abundant vegetation and because it is an ideal area to raise sheep, which is still the case hundreds of years later. Prized for their adaptability to the land and for their overall health and hardiness, Navajo-Churro sheep have a long history with both Navajo and Hispanic families in the region. The sheeps’ ancestors were originally from Spain and were quickly acquired through trades and raids by the Navajo.”

“Today, they are important to the Navajo culture and economy. The meat sustains many families, and the wool is used for weaving. Mariano Lake is no exception; like other communities, many families keep at least a few sheep,” said Renée.

“Some families also came to the area years ago to work in the uranium mine, which, unfortunately, was closed in 1982 and is now a highly contaminated site full of hazardous waste. As a result of the mine’s closure, there are few job opportunities in the area. Most adults travel to work low wage jobs in nearby Gallup or Crownpoint.”

Meeting with Barbara

“When I arrived at Mariano Lake Community School I was met by our wonderful, long-term volunteer coordinator, Barbara. We strolled around the school so I could get reacquainted with it since my previous visit. Then we went into the teachers’ lounge for our meeting. Barbara said that, like so many other schools, the pandemic caused disruptions,” explained Renée.

“Barbara was so excited and grateful about the most recent donation and was happily making her spending plans.”

“When the lockdown began in March 2020, the dorm was shut down along with the school. Children struggled with remote learning at home and many families experienced severe illness and death, which was further trauma for the children. Eventually, the school reopened to hybrid instruction, and then during the 2022-2023 school year, the school went back to fully in-person instruction, and masks were required. Masking is optional this school year, but many are choosing to continue, especially households with elders or people with chronic health conditions. Barbara kept on her mask throughout my visit, and so I did too.”

“Our coordinator told me that all the children who are enrolled at Mariano Lake have parents and grandparents who can scarcely make ends meet, and our sponsors’ support is deeply appreciated. During my visit, Barbara had just received Hope In Action Program funding based on a request where she told me she could use things for the dorm, primarily books and arts and craft supplies. Barbara was so excited and grateful about the most recent donation and was happily making her spending plans,” said Renée.

***

How do I sponsor a child with Children Incorporated?

You can sponsor a child 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 that is available for sponsorship.

SPONSOR A CHILD

We love receiving letters from our volunteer coordinators because they offer such amazing insight into how our sponsors are helping children in need around the world. Today, we share a letter from Jessica at Piney Creek Elementary School about how she is able to help her students, all thanks to our supporters.

“Without Children Incorporated, our students face low confidence, shame, and embarrassment from not having the items that they need.”

Jessica’s Letter

“The 2022-2023 school year has been a grateful return to normal after the uncertainties and changes presented by the global pandemic. We have seen tremendous growth and success in our students as they settle back into a routine. Piney Creek School strives to provide fun and engaging learning experiences for our students to cultivate a passion for continued learning and to give students an opportunity to be empowered, successful, and self-directed learners. The funds provided by Children Incorporated assist us in helping students to reach their fullest potential so that they are successful in high school, college and beyond.”

“This year, Piney Creek School has served 39 students through Children Incorporated. While this is a decrease since last year, our small school and community continues to grow and prosper as we focus on providing our students and their families’ needs. The total of 39 breaks down further to 18 males and 21 females. Several of our Children Incorporated students come from single parent homes, are raised by grandparents, or are in foster care. We are excited to share that this school year, Children Incorporated has allowed these 39 students to receive book fair books, school pictures, food, clothing, hygiene items, and so much more!”

Our Director of U.S. Programs, Renée Kube, is pictured with one of our sponsored children at Piney Creek Elementary School.

“Piney Creek School is proud to recognize students for their academic achievements throughout the school year through BETA club for seventh and eighth grade students. This year, the BETA Club induction included new Children Incorporated student Suzanne*, who is a phenomenal student and a great addition to our small school. Our BETA coordinator also submitted poems written by several of our Children Incorporated students to a national contest, and their poems were selected to be published. Two other Children Incorporated students, Sarah and Becka*, were also part of the Battle of the Books team that won the Battle of Books competition, reclaiming the trophy this year.”

“Middle school students at Piney Creek look forward to learning about our environment and ecosystem each year. Through Piney Creek Schools’ science classes, the Soil and Water Conservation District provided students with the opportunity to compete at the county level through essays, posters, and speeches to display their knowledge and understanding of our environment compared to other schools in the area. Students are judged at the school level and then move on to the county level to compete against other schools in the same district before moving on to regionals. Children Incorporated student Sarah placed 3rd in the local Soil and Water Conservation contest this year. She was also a Patriot’s Pen Essay Winner for her essay entitled ‘How are you inspired by America?’.”

“The staff, students, and community here at Piney Creek School are truly grateful for Children Incorporated and the numerous opportunities provided each year.”

“While we are so proud of our Children Incorporated students at Piney Creek School for their academic accomplishments, we are also tremendously touched by the opportunities that some of our students received through the Children Incorporated program. This year we have also added a new program at Piney Creek School titled ‘PCS Care Kits.’ Every month, we send home an order form with our Children Incorporated students that lists various hygienic supplies the students may need. Upon their return, we pack bags with essentials like hairbrushes, toothpaste, feminine products, shampoo and much more based on their selections. The first month of the program, we packed 31 bags to send home with students.”

“Without the funds provided by Children Incorporated and their sponsors, our small school would not have the means to bestow these resources to our Children Incorporated families. The mother of Children Incorporated students Whitney and Layla* expressed to me how much receiving the hygienic products each month means to her family. We are able to spread a sense of hope, comfort and confidence through the program. None of this could be accomplished without the donations of Children Incorporated sponsors.”

“Without Children Incorporated, our students face low confidence, shame, and embarrassment from not having the items that they need. Some children would be unable to wear clean, new, and well-fitting clothes to school, have a new book bag packed with supplies to start the year, lack proper hygiene, and even be without food or snacks. The staff, students, and community here at Piney Creek School are truly grateful for Children Incorporated and the numerous opportunities provided each year.”

Sincerely,
Jessica

*Names have been changed to protect the children.

***

HOW DO I SPONSOR A CHILD WITH CHILDREN INCORPORATED?

 You can sponsor a child with Children Incorporated 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 that is available for sponsorship.

SPONSOR A CHILD

written by Children Incorporated

We provide children living in poverty with education, hope and opportunity so they have the chance for a brighter future. Thanks to past and current supporters around the globe, we work with 225 affiliated sites in 20 countries to offer basic needs, emergency relief, and community support to thousands of children and their families each year.

» more of Children's stories

Ensuring the children are able to stay in our sponsorship program from their earliest days in school until graduation is something that our Director of U.S. Programs, Renée Kube, works hard to do. With the public school system often times having three different schools — elementary, middle and high school — for children to attend, it’s crucial that we partner with each school to ensure sponsorship support is not interrupted — especially for children who need it the most.

Today we hear from a former sponsored child, Susan*, who grew up in our sponsorship program and attended Menifee High School in Kentucky, and writes to us to describe how her experience having a sponsor was formative to helping her become the adult she is today.

SUSAN’S STORY

Dear Children Incorporated,

Students hold many memories from their school days, and one memory that I hold dear is having the privilege of being a Children Incorporated student starting in middle school until I graduated in 2011.

 Like many children in Menifee, my family was not privileged. My family owned a small farm, and both my parents worked; however, having three growing children, money was always tight for our family. Shortly after I started the 6th grade, our Resource Center Coordinator sent home paperwork to my parents asking permission to allow me to participate in the Children Incorporated program.

“I truly say that being a Children Incorporated participant helped shape the person I am today.”

I was unaware of what all the Children Incorporated program entailed in the beginning but was very thankful for the opportunity that was given to me. Like many within my county, I grew up wearing hand-me-downs, that were far from perfect, but I knew my parents were doing their best to keep us kids clothed, and fed. Middle school years are hard years for any student, but it was tough for the children that come from poor families. Often, I was made fun of because my clothes were not like others; they may have had stains, or may have even been a little bit too big, but that’s all I had. Because of the comments I received, my self-confidence slowly began to dwindle. I was too proud of my parents to ever let them know what other kids were saying about me, and I knew that my parents loved me and were trying their very best to provide us with what we needed. 

 As I began my journey as a Children Incorporated student, I was given a sponsor that was truly an angel in disguise for me. I will forever remember my first gift from my sponsor; she gifted me several outfits that were really trending at the time. I was in complete shock when I received the gift she sent me. She also sent a letter telling me all about herself and what she enjoyed doing during her free time. This letter was the first of many conversations that took place between the two of us over several years. I was so excited to send my sponsor a letter back telling her how thankful I was for the gifts she had sent for just me. Through each letter we shared our experiences with each other, and even though I never met this person face to face, it seemed as if we had known each other our whole lives . As I continued through school, I had a total of three different sponsors. Each of my sponsors and I shared many experiences together even though we may have been hundreds of miles apart. 

Being a Children Incorporated child was a blessing for me, not just for the gifts I received but the self-confidence and encouragement it gave me throughout my school years. I truly say that being a Children Incorporated participant helped shape the person I am today. Many people may think of this program as a handout for poor families, but that is far from the truth. This program is much more than that; this is life changing for those that are eligible to be a part of such a wonderful program. I will forever be thankful for the wonderful memories that I hold from each of my sponsors, and there isn’t any way that would be enough to thank them for all that they have done for me over the years. These sponsors in the Children Incorporated program are truly a gift from God.

 Now as a soon to be 30-year-old, as of March 2024, I will finally be able to say that I am the first out of my immediate family to obtain a bachelor’s degree. I have made leaps and bounds since graduating even if it was in small steps. I currently work within our local elementary school and have the pleasure of interacting and making an impact on the next generation. Because of the Children Incorporated program, I strive daily to make a positive impact on each student I serve. I am living proof that underserved children can overcome any obstacle that is thrown their way with a little encouragement and love even if it comes from a stranger that they have never met. I will forever be thankful for the Children Incorporated program.

*Name changed to protect the individual.

***

How do I sponsor a child with Children Incorporated?

You can sponsor a child 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 that is available for sponsorship.

While visiting Martin County, Kentucky last fall, I first met with Kara, our site coordinator at Martin County High School, and I was absolutely blown away by her caring nature and the extent of services she and her assistant offer the young people at her school.

Kara stated that she feels her main goal is to help the teenagers at her school look and feel good, just like everyone else, so that they will fit in and are not ostracized because of what they do not have. As such, she often provides the children with tennis shoes and assorted clothing items, and she keeps boys’ dress clothes and an assortment of prom dresses on hand for those who would otherwise not get to go to the prom or other special school functions.

Kara says her program could not exist without the financial support from Children Incorporated.

Kara also helps the children get their choir outfits (black pants and shirts) and makes sure that all the children she serves get at least one official school t-shirt, sweatshirt, or hoodie. Much of the clothing Kara shares is the result of Children Incorporated Hope In Action grant money. Kara says her program could not exist without the financial support from Children Incorporated.

MEETING OUR SPONSORED CHILDREN

While at Martin County High, I also met two students, Patrick and Kristen.* These children proudly took me for a tour of the beautiful building and grounds of the school, and it was a real pleasure to talk with them. Patrick said that his sponsor does write to him, and he has been very blessed to have her in his life. While his home situation is not good, he has an extremely positive attitude and is now making post-graduation plans to attend a local college and train to become a travel nurse. Kristen is very interested in criminal investigation work and has plans to attend Ohio State University, provided she can get enough financial support to afford it.

Martin County High School is perhaps one of the nicest and most well-maintained public school facilities that I have ever seen. It is bright and inviting, and just an overall beautiful building with very nice grounds.

GREETINGS FROM MARTIN COUNTY MIDDLE SCHOOL

Ron stands with Kara outside Martin County High School.

Next, our volunteer coordinator, Jennifer, welcomed me quite warmly to Martin County Middle School. Jennifer is extremely organized and makes master lists of all the various activities she oversees for the Family Resource Youth Service Center. For Children Incorporated, Jennifer has a spreadsheet that lists each Children Incorporated enrolled child, along with their clothing sizes, sheet and linen sizes, food preferences, and assorted other wants and needs. This makes it much easier for Jennifer to purchase items for the children in our sponsorship program.

Jennifer shared that the biggest issue facing her children is food insecurity. She said that families in Martin County are struggling like never before to make ends meet on a very limited food budget. During the COVID pandemic, the amount of food stamps a family of four received was approximately $1000 per month. Post-COVID, that amount has been reduced closer to $400 per month, a decrease of 60%, yet the cost of food has risen significantly. Jennifer said that she has called on Children Incorporated several times for money to purchase non-perishable food items for children in her program. She maintains an incredible food pantry in her office consisting of pop-top and easy-to-open non-perishable food items (mac and cheese cups, vienna sausages, canned soups, juice boxes, etc.), and she tries to always keep individually-wrapped snacks (bars, chips, small cereal boxes, candy, etc.) on hand for children who come to school without lunch or snacks.

Jennifer also maintains a very impressive clothing closet. She is a bargain shopper and purchases pants, shirts, and underwear on clearance at the local Paintsville Walmart and other stores. She also buys shoes anytime she sees them at a reduced price. Using primarily Children Incorporated funds, she recently bought 76 pairs of new shoes from the reduced price racks from a Huntington shoe store.

I was totally impressed with Jennifer’s program and how she manages it.

While I was visiting Jennifer, a young girl came in and asked for a pair of sneakers. Jennifer opened the closet and let the child choose a pair that she liked. Another young girl came in and got a light-weight jacket. Jennifer admitted that some of the money received from Children Incorporated, especially Hope In Action Funds, may also help children at the school that are not enrolled in the Children Incorporated program. I told her that that is absolutely fine as long as the needs of Children Incorporated-enrolled children are met first.

I was totally impressed with Jennifer’s program and how she manages it. She is a very organized coordinator as far as how she maintains her office, food pantry, food closet, and the services she provides to her school.

*Names changed to protect the children. 

***

HOW DO I SPONSOR A CHILD WITH CHILDREN INCORPORATED?

You can sponsor a child 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 that is available for sponsorship.

SPONSOR A CHILD