Tag Archives: education

Words Are Not Enough

We are very grateful to receive testimonials from our incredible volunteer coordinators from around the world, especially because they get to the see first-hand, on a daily basis, the amazing impact that our sponsors are having on the children all over the world. Today we would like to share a beautiful letter from Neil, one of our volunteer coordinators in North Carolina, who has expressed his gratitude and appreciation for our program and more importantly, our sponsors.

A letter from Neil

“Dear Children Incorporated Staff & Sponsors,

Words seem inadequate as I to describe the smiles and heartfelt appreciate my students demonstrate from the gifts and letters they receive from their sponsors.  How do I describe the pride a student exhibits as he walks down the hall in a new pair of sneakers?  Or how to describe the twinkle in our students’ eyes and the voracious manner in which they read letters from their sponsor as they try to image far off places?  I do not believe it is possible to describe the appreciation the students, or I, feel for the sponsors.  Words are not enough.

Let me tell you about the sneakers first.  There are two boys who come immediately to mind.  Life has dealt them a very difficult hand.  Both have absentee parents and are being raised by either a grandparent or great grandparents.  While having many excuses to be mad at the world and creating waves of pain and anger, both of these young men work diligently to learn as much as they can, follow the rules, and interact with their classmates in cooperative manner. They come to school and do their very best every day.  At Christmas I asked each of them what they would like from their sponsor.  Both wanted a pair of Stephen Curry high-tops sneakers. 

Thank you doesn’t express how much the assistance from Children Incorporated and the sponsors mean to the students and myself.  Know that it is heartfelt and truly meant.

– Neil

I told them I would see what I could do.  Because their sponsors’ monthly funds and additional holiday gifts, I was able to get both boys exactly what they requested.  Each of these young men are used to being disappointed, to having promises made and ultimately broken, and to wish for brand-name products and to get discount brands instead.  That is their experiences in life.  When they sat down in my office, opened their bags of gifts, and there, in their hands were the coolest shoes a kid could get, oh the disbelief, and then the smiles.  Tenderly they pulled their new shoes from the box, as if they were plated in gold and the bright colors dazzled their eyes.  One young man looked up to as if to ask if they were really his, and had to be encouraged to try them on.  One asked to wash his hands before he tried them on so he wouldn’t get them dirty.  The other day I greeted one of the young men as he was dropped off at school.  The shoes looked almost as good as they did the day he got them.  I asked his grandmother about this, and she stated that every day when he comes home from school, he takes off his shoes, washes them, and puts them away.  He told her that he has to take care of them because they are the nicest shoes he has ever received in his life.  This from a rough and tumble boy is an example of the worth he places in those shoes. 

Another special story

It is unfair that I get to see the smiles from these children and you, their sponsors, do not.  There have been times, like those described above, which bring a tear to my eyes.  One small girl, upon receiving her new, sparkling shoes, had to show me how good she could spin like a ballerina, the entire time, watching how her new shoes sparkled in the light.  Another couldn’t stop tapping her feet to make the lights in her shoes to come on and go off.  Another young lady ran up to me and gave me a very unexpected hug (she is a child who seldom expresses her emotions) and spun around showing me her new outfit, stating “I feel like a millionaire in these clothes.”  Things that I would take for granted meant the world to these students. 

There is one last story I would like to share.  One of the sponsored children is intellectually and physically disabled.  Non-verbal and unable to provide for his own care, I have to depend on his caregivers to find out what to get him.  They told me he loves blocks and loves to put them away after playing with them.  For Christmas, thanks to his sponsor, he received several different types of blocks and a container to put them in.  While he wasn’t able to open them, as the caregivers opened his gifts and show them to him I could tell he was quite happy and excited.  After Christmas break the caregivers reported that he played incessantly with the blocks, arranging them, and stacking them.  When finally tired, he would use as much care as he could to put each block in his new container. 

One day shortly after the end of Christmas break I was in his room giving a guidance lesson to him and his class.  The boy, typically remote and aloof, began to smack his hands together, beat on his desk, and attempted “talk” to me.  I walked over to him and offered him my hand.  This student had never attempted to interact with me before that day.  He began patting my hand and in the ultimate display of affection, took my hand and rubbed it back and forth over his head.  He chattered away at me and repeatedly patted my hand and had me rub his head during the rest of the guidance lesson.  Never would I have believed that the boy understood that the blocks came from me.  But he did.  And he displayed the tremendous depths of his gratitude in the only manner his unique mind and body could.  I left his room that day with a profound sense of humility.  I had received a blessing his sponsor should have received.  And what a humbling blessing it was for me. 

Thank you doesn’t express how much the assistance from Children Incorporated and the sponsors mean to the students and myself.  Know that it is heartfelt and truly meant.

 With gratitude,

Neil

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HOW DO I SPONSOR A CHILD IN NORTH CAROLINA?

You can sponsor a child in North Carolina 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.

Stepping Back in Time

I recently had the privilege of visiting several schools in West Virginia where Children Incorporated offers our child sponsorship program. It had been several years since my last visit to these schools; while I had clear memories from my previous trips, I wasn’t sure what I would find this go-around. Reflecting on the fact that everything in our world changes rapidly, I expected to find that these West Virginia schools were different from how they were when I last visited them. What I discovered, however, is that I was wrong to anticipate significant changes, for visiting these schools was, in many ways, like stepping back in time.

Sponsoring a child changes their life.

Mr. Carter with our Volunteer Coordinator Lara at Genoa Elementary School

The first two schools I visited, Genoa Elementary School and Dunlow Elementary School, both in Wayne County, West Virginia, are very small institutions; one has a total enrollment of approximately 75 students, and the other, just around ninety. The school buildings are old and showing signs of wear after many years of use; and both sit in extremely rural areas, void of businesses and commerce.

As I drove to these schools from Huntington, West Virginia, a city of 50,000 people less than an hour away, I couldn’t help but feel a drastic shift from city to country – from have to have not. The roads began to curve; some became much narrower and less maintained. Businesses and houses became fewer and farther apart. Then, while seemingly in the middle of nowhere, I arrived at the first school I was scheduled to visit: Genoa Elementary School.

Hearing from our sponsored children

While the staff at the school was extremely welcoming to me – and they clearly take their responsibility of caring for students quite seriously – the heaviness of poverty just hung in the air. It was palpable; I could feel it. As I interacted with several students enrolled in the Children Incorporated sponsorship program, I was moved by their obvious need.

As I spoke with one little girl, she told me that her sponsor writes her letters and encourages her to study hard and always do her homework. She said that she always looks forward to the letters she receives from this woman, for they remind her that someone cares about her and wants her to succeed in life. A little boy at the same school showed me some of his artwork, and he told me that his sponsor sent money for the supplies he used to create his little masterpieces. He was very thankful for the gift.

For more than half a decade, we have been touching lives and offering hope and opportunity in areas where necessities are often in short supply. That, friends, is why our organization exists; and you, through your generous support of our work, make it all possible.

Our wonderful volunteer coordinator at the school shared that a number of children would go without shoes, warm clothing, and food if it weren’t for assistance provided by their sponsors through our organization. She voiced her appreciation, as did the school principal, for all the years that Children Incorporated has helped the poorest among their student body to fit in and experience a sense of normalcy while at school, by providing them with clothing similar to those worn by less financially-stressed youngsters. She talked of the significance of ensuring that these children, too, have pencils and paper, and adequate school supplies, as well as food on the weekends, when they do not receive the free hot meals provided on weekdays in the school cafeteria.

A sense of hope

At the second school I visited, Dunlow Elementary – even further away from a major city, and perhaps even more remote – I found a very similar situation: a small, dedicated, caring staff working very hard to ensure that the children they serve are being well-provided-for and are offered a safe place in which to learn and grow. Children who live in extreme poverty, as most of the youngsters enrolled in our programs do, look forward to attending school, because while there, they not only have access to heat, clean water, and nutritious food – things often missing in their home lives – but they also experience a sense of hope and possibility for their futures. They see beyond what is to what could be, and they dare to dream.

It saddens me that the assistance offered by Children Incorporated is still so vitally important in the lives of these youngsters; yet I am also grateful that we can be there to extend a helping hand and offer support that is truly life-changing. That is what Children Incorporated is about: improving the lives of children and their families as they face financial hardships and trials of all kinds. For more than half a decade, we have been touching lives and offering hope and opportunity in areas where necessities are often in short supply. That, friends, is why our organization exists; and you, through your generous support of our work, make it all possible.

Thank you very much!

From the heart,

Ronald H. Carter

President and Chief Executive Officer

About Wayne County, West Virginia

Wayne County is nestled amid the vast natural beauty of the Allegheny Mountains, which still conceal deposits of the coal that once made this a rich and populous area of the Mountaineer State. Automation of mines and the ecological stigmas attached to coal as a fuel source have seriously damaged Wayne County’s economy. With coal mining almost shut down, businesses that once depended upon mining and the buying power of miners have closed. Unemployment continues to rise, and industry development remains at a crawl.

Like many small towns in this rural part of West Virginia, Genoa is remote, located far from any sizeable town or city. A few strip mines still produce coal, and there are some sawmills that cut lumber. Overall, however, Genoa’s economy is struggling, with high unemployment and a lack of industry development. Many residents in this region live well below the poverty line.

For these reasons, Genoa Elementary School and Dunlow Elementary School serve as beacons of hope and safe havens, as they are among the few places where children from impoverished families can count on support, encouragement, and a warm nutritious meal each day. The caring teachers at these schools strive to improve each child’s self-esteem and well-being through a well-rounded education – the key to breaking the cycle of poverty.

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HOW DO I SPONSOR A CHILD IN WEST VIRGINIA?

You can sponsor a child in West Virginia 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.

A Magical Time of Year

A few years back, my younger daughter, who was in grade school and believed wholeheartedly in Santa Claus at the time, asked me a couple of questions that I have since replayed in my mind time and time again. She had heard me talk about the fact that many children go without presents at Christmas, and she knew that Children Incorporated works with various organizations, companies, and individuals to provide gifts to many such youngsters at this special time of year. She did not understand why Santa, who is supposed to care about all children equally, would overlook some, leaving them with no presents at all. So she asked me, “Why doesn’t Santa Claus also give those children toys? Why does he pass them by?”

No gifts for children living in poverty

Thanks to you, children all over the world are receiving Christmas gifts this holiday season.

As many parents through the ages have struggled with questions about Santa Claus, I, too, wrestled with responding in a way that would make sense, yet would not rob my child of her innocence and brief belief in the man in the red hat. I quickly came up with something along the lines of Santa not paying for the toys he delivers; but rather, parents send him money for gifts that he either makes or picks up, and he delivers them on Christmas Eve. Then I explained to my child that some parents cannot afford to send Santa money; thus, their children go without gifts. My daughter seemed to accept this explanation fairly well, and we moved on to the next topic.

Now, years later, my child is in high school – her belief in Santa long forgotten. She and I still struggle, however, with the concept of poverty, and the fact that many youngsters have little to celebrate at Christmastime – or throughout the year, for that matter. Basics such as food and clothing are often in short supply in their lives; thus, presents wrapped in pretty holiday paper, adorned with bright sparkly bows, are merely something about which they can only dream. As their parents struggle to provide shelter, pay rent and utilities, and ensure that their sons and daughters get to and from school – where parents hope their children will receive an education that will lead them to a better life – the brilliance of the Christmas season is greatly dimmed.

Because of kind donations, many children around the world are feeling the Christmas spirit during this magical time of year – a warmth they would not be feeling otherwise.

A season of new beginnings

Christmas is a magical time for many. Advent, the period leading up to it, is a season of new beginnings; fresh starts and hopes and possibilities – the very things those who struggle are often missing in their lives, and so desperately need. During this special time of year, I want to thank our sponsors and supporters for all that they have contributed to the work of Children Incorporated by sponsoring children, making donations to our Hope In Action Fund, and helping us to provide not only food and clothing – but also sometimes a toy or book or ball – to children who might otherwise go without. Because of kind donations, many children around the world are feeling the Christmas spirit during this magical time of year – a warmth they would not be feeling otherwise. Thanks to you, so many youngsters are having a very merry Christmas and a happy holiday. We can’t thank you enough for changing the lives of these children in need.

From the heart,

Ronald H. Carter
President and Chief Executive Officer

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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 sponsorship portal, create an account, and search for a child that is available for sponsorship.

Celebrating Our Successes

As we reach the end of the year 2018, we want to take time to reflect on what we have been able to accomplish, thanks to our amazing sponsors and donors, over the past year. Because of our supporters around the globe, not only have we provided basic needs for thousands of children at nearly 300 affiliated projects through our sponsorship program, but we have also funded dozens of special programs that expand our reach to even more children, their families, and entire communities. The following are some of our successes that you have made possible – and we are extremely proud to have this opportunity to share them with you.

We are so grateful for each and every person who helped make 2018 such a successful year! We look forward to another great year helping children in need in 2019!

Our accomplishments

– We provided regular aid to thousands of children in eight U.S. states and Washington, D.C. As the heart of our organization, our sponsorship program provided for the basic, health, and educational needs of vulnerable youth, as well as the opportunity for our caring sponsors to correspond with their sponsored children.

– We provided hand tools, seeds, plants, soil conditioners, and other materials to a school in Martin County, Kentucky. Our volunteer coordinator there was selected as a “Healthy School Hero” by Kentucky’s Action for Healthy Kids for having spearheaded the establishment and expansion of a school greenhouse and garden. The students there enjoyed outdoor lessons, continued working and learning over the summer, and took the harvest home to their families.

– We facilitated the attendance of interested children enrolled in our program in Alleghany County, North Carolina at the Junior Appalachian Musicians after-school program. The young students took lessons in traditional Appalachian instruments, like the banjo and dulcimer; as well as in an area of cultural enrichment, like clogging, stories, and singing.

In 2018, we supported children in India with one meal a day during the school days.

– We enrolled 25 new children at the Rainbow Center in Ethiopia, 25 at Fortune’s Children at Parang in the Philippines, thirty at the Pinagpala Children’s Center in the Philippines, 25 at the Dandora Community Center in Kenya, and we supported 200 children at St. John’s Community Center in Kenya.

– We provided materials and supplies for a reading pergola and native canyon grape vines at a school in the Navajo Nation in Arizona. The vines were trained up the pergola to provide shade, and students will make jam from the grapes. The kids love the pergola, and our volunteer coordinator at the school has already seen increased reading activity because of it, which means improved literacy.

– We provided additional warm clothing for children attending a special education school in Arizona and at a charter school in New Orleans.

– We supported Backpack Feeding Programs for weekends and holidays for children in Kentucky and Washington, D.C.

– We provided assistance that allowed nine high-achieving graduates who were in our sponsorship program in the United States to attend college.

– We supported children at five schools in India and the Philippines with one meal a day during the school days so that they could stay focused and alert, experience improved physical development, and perform better academically.

– We provided emergency relief for families after a volcanic eruption near Antigua, Guatemala, where our affiliated project Sagrada Familia is located.

We are so grateful for each and every person who helped make 2018 such a successful year! We look forward to another great year helping children in need in 2019!

***

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.

Long Days and Nights for Parents in Kentucky

Kimper Elementary School, one of our many affiliated projects in Pike County, Kentucky, is proud of its reputation of academic excellence. With an attendance rate of 96 percent, this school has had a positive impact on the children and families of this struggling Appalachian community for decades. The school itself is very small, with an enrollment of about 175 students from kindergarten to the eighth grade. Our sponsorship program is making a difference there, as we help to ensure that the children receive the clothes, shoes, school supplies, and hygiene items they need on a regular basis.

So little time left for family

Kimper Elementary School students’ parents often work long hours away from home.

Recently, on her way to visit with our Volunteer Coordinator at Kimper Elementary School, Vivian, our U.S. Projects Specialist, Shelley Oxenham, drove by a fairly large Kellogg Company factory, where well-known breakfast cereals and other convenience foods such as Corn Flakes are produced; she also passed a McCoy Elkhorn Coal Operation mine. Shelley was surprised that both seemed to be in full operation, and she was pleased to see industry in such a remote part of the county, where there would usually just be closed factories and mines.

When she arrived at the school, Shelley asked Vivian about employment options in the area. Vivian told Shelley that the McCoy Elkhorn Coal Operation mine used to be one of the better companies to work for – offering great pay, good benefits, bonuses, and pensions. Today, however, the mine operates on only a very small skeleton crew.

The Kellogg Company factory, on the other hand, employs a large number of people in Pike County – many of whom are parents of our sponsored and unsponsored children. Their shifts are long, though; employees work twelve-hour shifts either from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., or overnight from 7:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. This leaves staff with little time to be available for their kids. The long shifts are especially difficult for single parents.

The effects of working long hours

Thankfully, these children have the Family Resource and Youth Services Center (FRYSC), Vivian, and the support of their sponsors.

Even with better-paying jobs, parents who work long shifts still have plenty to worry about when it comes to providing for their kids. If they aren’t home in the evenings, they aren’t able to help their kids with homework, or prepare nutritious meals for them. Parents that work into late afternoon can’t take their kids to and from after-school activities, either; their kids may therefore miss out on sports and other school functions.

Kellogg Company employees may not have a chance to ensure that their kids are ready for school and properly dressed, with their book bags packed for the day. They may also miss important evening meetings at school. Thankfully, however, these children have the Family Resource and Youth Services Center (FRYSC), Vivian, and the support of their sponsors. Although their parents may not have as much time to dedicate to them as they would like, these kids are still being looked after and cared for each and every day.

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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.

Retiring After Many Years of Service

At Children Incorporated, we know very well that we couldn’t help kids who are living in poverty to obtain an education without our amazing volunteer coordinators. Because of their hard work and dedication, we are able to provide basic needs to some of the most vulnerable children in the world.

This past June, one of our special volunteer coordinators, Leeann, at our affiliated project Millard Elementary School in Pike County, Kentucky, retired after 25 years of working at the school’s Family Resource Center. In a community where many children are in the foster care system because they have been removed from their homes due to their parents’ drug abuse problems, having a special person like Leeann who can offer consistent support for kids is incredibly important to their well-being and development.

CATCHING UP WITH LEEANN

We caught up with Leeann to ask her some questions about her more than two decades of work with Children Incorporated, and how our program has impacted the lives of children at her school.

CI: How long have you been working as a volunteer coordinator with Children Incorporated?

L: 25 years

CI: What special challenges do children at your school face?

Leeann with one of our sponsored children at Millard Elementary School in Pike County, Kentucky

L: The greatest need at the school is for school supplies and clothing for the students. I would say that more than forty percent of our students are in foster care, living with other family members, and/or are adopted at some time in their lives. Many of these students have low self-esteem and sometimes make bad decisions because they don’t have any guidance in their lives.

CI: How would you describe the community in which you live?

L: There are no jobs in this community. With the decline of coal mines, there are no jobs for the men.

CI: In what ways does the Children Incorporated program help the children enrolled?

L: It helps with the purchase of school supplies throughout the school year. Also, it helps to purchase new shoes and clothing when they are needed. Students visit the Family Resource and Youth Services Center (FRYSC) when they have a need.

CI: For you, what is the most important aspect of the Children Incorporated program?

L: The children enrolled in the Children Incorporated program are set up to succeed in school through the basic needs they are receiving. The sponsorship program also helps build their self-esteem and gives them the feeling that they are being treated with respect.

“The sponsorship program also helps build their self-esteem and gives them the feeling that they are being treated with respect.”

– Leeann

CI: Can you tell us a special story about a sponsored child and how sponsorship helped them in their life?

L: I have a girl that has been in the Children Incorporated program for five years. I will call the girl Alica. Alica has one brother and one sister. Her father worked in coal mines for twenty years – but now, he works at McDonald’s. They barely make it every month after paying rent and utilities. They do receive a small amount of Food Stamps. Alica had been wearing the same pair of sneakers for three years when I first met her; of course, her feet had sores on them, and she said it was hard to walk in the shoes. I asked her why she hadn’t told her parents about her feet, and she said that they were still pretty good shoes. She didn’t want to hurt her parents’ feelings or make them feel bad. The first thing I did after that conversation was go and get her two new pairs of shoes.

CI: What is most challenging for you as a volunteer coordinator for Children Incorporated?

L: Christmas shopping is the hardest because I wish there were enough money to provide for entire families.

CI: What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

L: I love to read, make wreaths, and watch TV movies from start to finish.

Leeann, thank you for your years of dedicated service to children in need in Eastern Kentucky. We hope you enjoy your much-deserved retirement!

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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.