Tag Archives: hope

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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Caring for a Generation of Students

* Note: This blog was written prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although much has changed regarding our sponsored children’s learning experience in the past months, our On the Road stories remain relevant in regards to our volunteer coordinator’s work and the impact of sponsorship on children in our program thanks to our sponsors. We are pleased to continue to share stories with you about our work.

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Marie Roberts Elementary School is located in the small community of Lost Creek, Kentucky, in Breathitt County.

In a part of the country where 48.3% of children are living in poverty, the Family Resource Center at the school, and our volunteer coordinator, Jackie, are able to offer children the critical support they need to survive in difficult circumstances.

“Jackie is the original coordinator who brought our sponsorship program to the school many years ago. She has been a loving and stable presence for easily a generation of students,” explained our Director of U.S. Programs, Renée Kube.

“With her students, Jackie is very warm, and they feel comforted and loved in her presence.”

Good news for children in need

While visiting with Jackie at Marie Roberts, Renée had a chance to hear more about how Jackie, and our sponsors, are helping some of the most vulnerable kids in Lost Creek.

“Jackie said her job is about removing as many barriers as she can to her students’ academic potential and well-being. The barriers are all related, in one way or another, to the high child poverty rate,” said Renée.

“Jackie shared with me information from studies that show when children grow up in impoverished households, they tend to have worse health than children in better economic situations. Their education is also negatively impacted. Poverty can even affect their income attainment into adulthood as well.”

An exterior photo of Marie Roberts Elementary School

But it wasn’t all bad news that Jackie had for Renée. During their meeting, they discussed the heartening news that recent research has supported the theory that positive sustained relationships with caring adults can buffer childhood trauma and the toxic stress they feel from growing up in a difficult environment.

“Not only are school staff like Jackie able to be that caring adult for children, so are Children Incorporated sponsor[s]. Having someone in their lives who cares for them and provides some financial support, but also some emotional support through correspondence – often over a period of years — is powerful,” said Renée.

Helping kids with their stress

Related to the trauma and stress many of the children endure, Jackie shared the school is now very fortunate to have two counselors from Mountain Comprehensive Care Centers which is part of the Kentucky Department for Behavioral Health, Developmental, and Intellectual Disabilities. They began working at Marie Roberts Elementary during the 2018-2019 School Year and have had a huge impact on the children. They provide assessment, counseling, and referrals in a convenient and familiar location — the school. This also helps with access barriers, as so many families lack reliable transportation.

Before she left, Renée and Jackie discussed the Family Resource Center’s needs, and right away Jackie said shoes.

“She explained that the kids grow so quickly, and shoes are so expensive. Many families can afford only the cheapest flip flops or slides from the Dollar Store, and Jackie is always looking for deals on name-brand, sturdy shoes,” said Renée.

“Thankfully, our sponsors and our Shoes and Socks Fund have also been able to provide funds for Jackie to purchase quality shoes for kids that will last.”

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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

The Heart of Small Community

* Note: This blog was written prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although much has changed regarding our sponsored children’s learning experience in the past months, our On the Road stories remain relevant in regards to our volunteer coordinator’s work and the impact of sponsorship on children in our program thanks to our sponsors. We are pleased to continue to share stories with you about our work.

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Located in rural and mountainous eastern Kentucky, Letcher County is best known for its natural beauty, as evidenced by small but growing efforts to promote the county as a tourist destination in recent years. One especially breathtaking site is the Bad Branch Falls State Nature Preserve in the town of Eolia. The park comprises over 2,600 acres of trails, waterfalls, and mountain vistas, boasting one of the highest concentrations of rare or endangered species in Kentucky.

“The school’s caring and dedicated staff are thrilled to partner with Children Incorporated sponsors to better equip students with the basic essentials and well-rounded education they need and deserve,” explained our Director of U.S. Programs, Renée Kube.

The breathtaking beauty of this land, however, belies the hardships that its residents face each day. As with many towns in the area, the community of Eolia traces its roots back to the coalmining industry, which sustained this once-thriving region for generations. With the decline of the mining industry, however, employment opportunities here have plummeted, and poverty rates have soared.

Many families have moved away in search of job opportunities, but a resilient few have stayed, working hard to revitalize their community despite hardship. Daily survival here is a struggle, and children feel it perhaps most keenly. In fact, the childhood poverty rate here currently hovers at a staggering 32%.

For these reasons, our affiliated project, Arlie Boggs Elementary/Middle School, not only offers hope and a sense of security to children and families in need, but in so many ways is the heart of this small, close-knit community.

Meeting Sandy

The Family Resource Center is able to offer so much support for families in need in Letcher County.

“The school’s caring and dedicated staff are thrilled to partner with Children Incorporated sponsors to better equip students with the basic essentials and well-rounded education they need and deserve,” explained our Director of U.S. Programs, Renée Kube.

“The coordinator, Sandy, is a dynamo of energy and enthusiasm. She is so proud of the kids. Sandy shared her two favorite school academic initiatives are essentially band and business. All students are required to learn a musical instrument starting in fifth grade. From sixth through eighth grade, the students may participate in band.”

Learning about Small Business

Another initiative that the school has implemented is the EntreEd Program. According to their website, “as the future of work continues to evolve, EntreEd instills entrepreneurial mindsets in every student, every year to forge a more entrepreneurial America.”

Arlie Boggs has partnered with EntreEd thanks to an entrepreneurship grant. Business concepts are taught to children at every grade level in the school. The older students learn to develop business plans and launch their small businesses — and keep their profits. The program runs from August through October, culminating in a school fair to which their families are invited. Sandy says that examples of small businesses that students have launched included creating temporary tattoos, making cotton candy, designing custom t-shirts,  making wreaths and jewelry, and dress design.

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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

An Open School in Eastern Kentucky

*Note: This blog was written prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although much has changed regarding our sponsored children’s learning experience in the past months, our On the Road stories remain relevant in regards to our volunteer coordinator’s work and the impact of sponsorship on children in our program thanks to our sponsors. We are pleased to continue to share stories with you about our work.

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Located in the heart of Kentucky’s Eastern Coal Region, Letcher County holds the unfortunate distinction of having the second-largest unemployment rate in Kentucky.

“Brittney said there is not a problem with bullying, and all the kids are open, friendly, and accepting of one another — much like the openness that the actual school building offers.”

Coal from this region once fueled factories, powered locomotives, and heated millions of homes. However, the coal industry, which once employed the majority of the area’s workforce, has sharply declined due to automation and the increased use of other fuels.

Lack of employment opportunities has resulted in widespread poverty, along with associated socioeconomic issues such as drug abuse, obesity, and domestic abuse issues. Fortunately, for many impoverished families in this community, West Whitesburg Elementary School offers their children a well-rounded education in a school environment where kids support one another in positive ways.

A different kind of school

“West Whitesburg was built in the late 1960s during the ‘open school’ movement,” explained our Director of U.S. Programs, Renée Kube.

“This meant no walls separated classrooms, with the idea that students would learn creatively, and teachers would collaborate. Whereas most open schools are very loud and noisy, West Whitesburg is not. Partitions were put up many years ago, and teachers work especially hard here on ‘indoor voices versus outdoor voices.”

West Whitesburg Elementary School serves 390 children in grades pre-kindergarten through 5th.

The school has an open layout, which is not very typical of public schools in the U.S.

The school itself shares its grounds with Whitesburg Middle School. The two schools abut one another and have separate entrances, administration, faculty, and staff.

Learning more from Britteny

While visiting the school, our U.S. Director of Programs, Renée Kube, met with the Family Resource Youth Services Center Coordinator, Britteny, and her assistant, Donna. Together, they also run our sponsorship program.

During their meeting, Renée had a chance to ask Britteny more about the students in attendance at this very different kind of school.

“When I asked about the school’s culture and dynamics, Brittney’s face lit up. The population is mixed between some of the more well-to-do families, middle-income families, and those who live in the public housing complex across from the school,” said Renée.

“Brittney said there is not a problem with bullying, and all the kids are open, friendly, and accepting of one another — much like the openness that the actual school building offers.”

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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

Bringing Joy to Children All Over the World

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 kids around the world.

After receiving photos and stories from our volunteer coordinators about how much the Christmas gifts you provided meant to children living in poverty, we wanted to share with you some of their heartfelt thanks for the gratitude you show through your sponsorships.

After receiving photos and stories from our volunteer coordinators about how much the Christmas gifts you provided meant to children living in poverty, we wanted to share with you some of their heartfelt thanks for the gratitude you show through your sponsorships.

Thank you from New Mexico

“Even though shopping for the children in the Children Incorporated program became difficult due to the pandemic and lockdown on the Navajo Nation, we were able to have the kids order from our virtual book fair for the holidays. We also placed an order from Teach the Children Educational Supply Co. for educational board games for them to take home. We also ordered containers filled with school supplies they can use starting in January. Teach the Children is so awesome and helpful that they mark each container with the students’ names, and we don’t have to do much except distribute! The kids also received toys and a treat bag. All of these gifts will allow the children to spend safe quality time at home. We will also have our children on the program to shop at our small local Farmer’s Market for the holidays for food items.”

We are very grateful to our sponsors.

Phyllis and Karen
Dzilth Community School
New Mexico

Happy Holidays from Kentucky

Our sponsored children are so thankful to have received Christmas gifts in December.

“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!”

Sandy
Beaver Creek Elementary School
Knott County, Kentucky

Wishing a Merry Christmas in Lebanon

“Dear Friends,

Greetings from Lebanon! We will never forget 2020, the year that has been and still is full of challenges in Lebanon and the world.

We are very thankful for all Father Andeweg Institute for the Deaf (FAID) friends and supporters who were so generous and did not hesitate to give FAID a helping hand in this difficult time. Through your generosity, FAID was able to support our students’ families with food parcels, hygiene items, voucher gifts to buy from the market and transportation allowance for the most-needy students. The most important support was the love and care towards FAID and its mission.

Despite the restrictions due to COVID-19, we have been able to offer a full timetable and lots of extracurricular activities, keeping our pupils learning, socializing and safe. We all had a chance to evaluate just what FAID means to each of us.

We are forever indebted to our wonderful staff that developed skills overnight to take on a high-quality home learning experience.”

Gladys
The Father Andweg Institute for the Deaf
Beirut, Lebanon

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How do I sponsor a child?

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.

SPONSOR A CHILD

A Garden for Learning and Nutrition

Located more than 200 miles outside of Addis Ababa, Kids Hope Ethiopia supports children in our program in the rural town of Kersa.

“Kids Hope is an impressive project — and one in which our sponsorship should be proud to support.”

The Kids Hope Center itself has two locations within Kersa. One site has an agricultural area and a dining hall. The other location has a few sports fields and a salon/classroom, classes, meetings, and trainings.

“Kids Hope supports children who attend the Center’s afterschool and return home each day, while also serving children from further away, who board with local families and then return home on the weekends. The children are enrolled in local public schools, and they are provided with all school supplies, materials, clothes, and food. The Center provides a great opportunity for education, whereas otherwise, there is no option to go to school in the small surrounding villages,” explained our Director of International Programs, Luis Bourdet.

Gardening for multiple purposes

“A few years ago, Children Incorporated supported Kids Hope’s efforts to start a vegetable garden with their agricultural area. This vegetable garden has been great for educational purposes for the children, while also offering them nutritional food.”

“All the vegetables produced there are used in the Center’s kitchen. The children are provided with meals every day while attending nearby schools, and then after school, when they are at the Center for tutoring and computer training,” said Luis.

“This center is providing crucial resources for children’s development in this remote area — Kids Hope is an impressive project — and one in which our sponsorship should be proud to support.”

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How do I sponsor a child in Ethiopia?

You can sponsor a child in Ethiopia 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 Ethiopia that is available for sponsorship.

SPONSOR A CHILD