Tag Archives: help children in need

Ensuring 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 can 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 came 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 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 can 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. The 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.

Dear Friends, 

Before joining the staff of Children Incorporated in 2003, I worked for another child sponsorship organization for over a decade. During that time, I occasionally heard about Children Incorporated from my then co-workers, but no one seemed to know a great deal about the organization founded by Jeanne Clarke Wood in 1964. Children Incorporated was often downplayed and written off as being rather insignificant in comparison to the much larger organization where I was then employed.

Then, in 2002, when my position with that other firm was unceremoniously eliminated, I found myself seeking new employment. I loved nonprofit work and wanted badly to remain in the child sponsorship arena; thus when a former employee of the larger organization told me that he was then working at Children Incorporated and made arrangements for me to interview there as well, I was elated. I met with Mrs. Wood, her successor as president, Marian Cummins, and a couple of other employees, and I was hired on the spot. What I immediately discovered is that those who had tried to make Children Incorporated appear insignificant were wrong. 

Within days of my hire, I knew what thousands of loyal sponsors had been saying for 39 years: that Children Incorporated was an organization with incredible integrity, far-reaching arms, and a huge amount of personality. As I watched and listened to my co-workers interact with sponsors, donors, and a vast network of volunteer coordinators, I came to understand why so many had labeled Children Incorporated as “an organization with heart.”

All these years later, I am still impressed by what Children Incorporated accomplishes, and my hope for our future is that we will keep on meeting needs as we have for the last six decades, and that we will be able to meet many more needs as they arise. I also hope that we will be able to reach many new people with information about our work. I hope to share the message that Children Incorporated is an honest and dependable organization that matters greatly to thousands and thousands of children and their families. Cheers to 60 years and thank you for all you do to make our work possible! 

From the heart,
Ronald H. Carter
President and Chief Executive Officer 

Clean Water and Healthy Living in Kentucky

Last fall, thanks to a wonderful proposal submitted by our volunteer coordinator Kelly at Salyersville Elementary School in Kentucky, we were able to provide water bottles to students as a part of a healthy living initiative started in the school district. Kelly shared that during the pandemic, many school districts either closed/shut down or greatly reduced the number of water fountains.

Cheers to 60 years and thank you for all you do to make our work possible!

This was originally done in an effort to halt the spread of COVID-19. However, many of those districts have decided to remove the water fountains altogether and to replace them with water bottle stations. This move is seen as more hygienic, reducing possible COVID transmission, but also the common cold, flu, RSV, rotavirus, enterovirus (hand, foot and mouth disease) and more. Outbreaks cause sick children and high rates of absenteeism. Upon receiving the water bottles, Kelly wrote a note of thanks to Children Incorporated: 

“Thank you again for the special gift, which provided water bottles for all our students. The timing was perfect, as Friday was Eagle Spirit Day for the last day of Red Ribbon Week. The students, and myself, are so thankful and excited. I am also sending you some pictures taken as I passed out the bottles. Thanks so much for all you do!”

A Warm Partnership with Subaru 

In January, Children Incorporated was selected by another nonprofit organization, Operation Warm, to receive 100 new coats for our Richmond children, thanks to its partnership with Subaru of America. Our staff welcomed two employees, Rachel and Michael, from a local dealership, Hyman Bros. Subaru, who brought the coats themselves to our office to then be distributed to children at our Virginia affiliated schools! We are so grateful for the support!

Thank you, Operation Warm and Hyman Bros. Subaru! 

READ THE FULL NEWSLETTER

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

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

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

Dear Friends,

I recently went on my first ever cruise to the Bahamas and Mexico, and I must say I truly enjoyed the experience. The sunrises over the ocean each morning were breathtaking, and the brush of the waves against the hull of the ship lulled me to sleep each evening. The cruise personnel was wonderfully attentive, and the entertainment on the ship — including two Broadway-type shows and an incredible singer saluting the late great Aretha Franklin — was fantastic.

Will you please consider making a contribution to our Feeding Programs Fund? Whether a little or a lot, every dollar matters in the fight to feed the hungry.

But the thing I most remember from the cruise was the food. There was food everywhere! Perhaps due to my line of work, I found the vast array of delicacies and the sheer volume of food before me to be quite overwhelming, and as I filled my face time and time again, I couldn’t help but reflect on the many children and families who go hungry on a daily basis. 

Seeing the need for myself

It’s been said that nearly 44 million people, including 1 out of every 5 children, face hunger on a regular basis. Many do not have enough food to eat, and some have extremely limited access to healthy and nutritious food. Many rely on heavily processed canned goods which have virtually no nutritional value whatsoever, and they have those items in only limited amounts. 

My co-workers and I have visited homes where the cupboards and refrigerators were absolutely bare. I clearly recall one home, consisting of two parents, a grandmother, and three small children, where the only food item to be found was a half-eaten bag of potato chips. In another home, there was only a can of evaporated milk and a few day-old pastries.

At Children Incorporated, we are working to correct such heartbreaking situations. One of our greatest outreach efforts and most successful ways of meeting poverty head-on is through our Feeding Programs.

Our Feeding Programs Fund at work

Each year, we provide hundreds of thousands of dollars of food assistance to our site locations around the world. We support on-going food programs, and we aid in special as-needed situations. We regularly provide backpacks full of non-perishable food items to children who might otherwise go hungry on weekends and during breaks from school. Additionally, we provide financial assistance to programs that encourage planting home and community gardens where children learn how to cultivate and harvest their own food.

We always need your help in this very valuable work. It is on-going, steady, and persistent. Will you please consider making a contribution to our Feeding Programs Fund? Whether a little or a lot, every dollar matters in the fight to feed the hungry. As Mother Teresa said, “If you cannot feed a hundred people, then feed just one.”

From the heart, 

Ronald H. Carter
President and Chief Executive Officer
Children Incorporated

DONATE TO OUR FEEDING PROGRAMS