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Our Spring 2021 Newsletter

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

Tablets Are Bringing Education to Children Around the World

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

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

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

Bringing Joy to Children During the Holiday Season

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

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

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

Our Warm Clothing Fund Brings Smiles to Children in Need

Brain poses for the camera with this new clothes.

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

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

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

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

*Name changed to protect the child.

 An Interview with Board Member, Liz Collins

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

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

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

Liz Collins, Board Chair

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Still in Need of Ordinary School Supplies  

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

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

*Name changed to protect the child.

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

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

We are very proud of you, Kris!

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

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

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

A New Roof at the Dandora Center in Kenya

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

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

READ THE FULL NEWSLETTER

Children Incorporated Fall 2019 Newsletter

In 1964, the average cost of a new home in the United States was $13,050. Postage stamps were 5 cents each, and a gallon of gasoline cost just 25 cents more than that. In the same year, a young woman named Jeanne Clarke Wood started Children Incorporated out of her home in Richmond, Virginia to improve the lives of children who often went hungry and without having their most basic needs met.

Fifty-five years later, the work of Children Incorporated is still changing lives.

Reports from those early days indicate that funds provided by Children Incorporated were life-changing. Hungry children were fed. Children who had been wearing threadbare clothes and shoes with holes in the soles were outfitted with sturdy clothing. Young people, who had gone without paper, pencils and necessary schoolbooks were provided with them.

Fifty-five years later, the work of Children Incorporated is still changing lives.

Thanks to our donors and sponsors, we have changed the lives of approximately 300,000 children and their families in the last six decades. Today, our dedication to improving lives and providing education, hope and opportunity is as strong — if not stronger — than ever.

The playground equipment in Puerto Rico was a huge improvement to the area.

Thanks to You, Children in Puerto Rico Have New Playground Equipment

Thanks to the generosity of our wonderful donors, Children Incorporated recently purchased and installed brand new playground equipment at the Iglesia Bautista de Metropolis in San Juan, Puerto Rico. This playground offers a safe place for children in the surrounding community to play under the supervision of caring adults — something they have not had in the wake of Hurricane Maria.

Brand New Textbooks for Students in Kenya

In Kenya, children are often required to purchase their own textbooks — an expense that is a significant burden for their families. Thanks to donations from our donors, we were able to send additional support to the Dandora Center in Nairobi — our affiliated project — for the purchase of schoolbooks. With this help, students at the school recently received books at no cost!

In Guatemala, a New Skills Training Program Teaches Dressmaking

We recently received photos from our volunteer coordinator at the Juan Apostol School in Guatemala City, Guatemala, of students learning how to sew thanks to the newly implemented Dressmaking Program. Students learn sewing skills that they can apply to their personal lives or use in the future to generate income.

This is the fifth training program implemented at the Juan Apostol School, thanks to our donors and sponsors. Other programs include Cosmetology, Food Preparation, Computer Repair and Maintenance, Graphic Design and Music.

Children receive backpacks and school supplies thanks to our Back-to-School Fund.

Back to School season is one of the toughest times for children in need. Not having new outfits or school supplies to start the school year off right can diminish their confidence and make it difficult for them to focus.

Thankfully, children in our program — like those in Letcher County, Kentucky — receive bookbags and other school supplies, so they have the tools they need to feel good about themselves and to start the school year ready to learn!

Letter from our Volunteer Coordinators 

“I truly believe Children Incorporated has made an impact on my students’ lives. I have seen their smiles, felt their hugs and their appreciation for gifts and letters of encouragement from their sponsors.”

– Deborah, Kentucky

“As I’ve said for years, the sponsors are the true heroes of the Children Incorporated program. It is amazing to think that strangers care enough about a child — a child they have never, and most likely will never, meet — to send help. I hope sponsors realize that the friendships and bonds they create with these children are just as valuable as their monetary donations. Children Incorporated and its sponsors are changing the world one child at a time.”

– Stacy, West Virginia

“We would like to thank the sponsors for their support. All children want to know they’re cared about, and I can tell you that you have provided these children with lots of smiles. The Children Incorporated program has given our students a huge sense of pride as well as the knowledge that someone cares. Parents come in and say, ‘I appreciate the sponsorship so much.’ I’m surprised at how much people are willing to give, especially to children they’ve never seen in person. My words of thanks fall way short of conveying how important sponsors are in these kids’ lives.”

– Wally, North Carolina

Four-Star Rating with Charity Navigator for the Fourth Year in a Row

We are proud to announce Children Incorporated has earned our fourth consecutive 4-star rating with Charity Navigator!

Charity Navigator is an independent American charity watchdog organization that evaluates charitable organizations in the United States. The four-star rating is the highest possible rating that an organization can receive from Charity Navigator, and it shows that Children Incorporated adheres to sector best practices and executes its mission in a financially efficient way.

Attaining a 4-star rating verifies that Children Incorporated exceeds industry standards and demonstrates our trustworthiness to the public. We believe in full transparency of our financial management and are grateful to be recognized for our dedication as stewards of your generosity.

Sincerely yours,

Ronald H. Carter President and CEO

Congratulations to our Higher Education Fund Recipient, Sarah!

Sarah pictured with her diploma.

We want to give huge congratulations to Sarah, one of our amazing sponsored children and Higher Education Program participants. Sarah recently graduated from college with a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Administration.

Sarah writes:

“Children Incorporated has been a part of my life since I was in kindergarten. They have helped my family and me through difficult times. I have received many packages and letters that have supplied me with new clothes and great memories. Also, I received help to get me through college when I did not know if I would be able to go or not. If it were not for Children Incorporated or the sponsors that fund this great organization, I would not have had the same childhood or college experience. I want to express my gratitude and say thank you to everyone who has helped me.”

We are very proud of you, Sarah!

*Name changed to protect the child.

READ THE FULL NEWSLETTER

Clothes for Clothes: “Fashion Focused. Cause Motivated.”

The past two fall seasons, Altar’d State’s Mission Monday program has upheld the clothier’s motto: “Fashion Focused. Cause Motivated.” – contributing more than $10,000 to our Warm Clothing Fund, and “standing out for good,” just as the company promises it does.

Every Monday, ten percent of each store’s net sales go to the nonprofit that it is promoting.

How the Mission Monday program works

Each Altar’d State location chooses a nonprofit local to it to be its beneficiary for several weeks to a couple of months, depending on the length of the brand’s current theme. Topics vary from self-esteem, to pets, to cancer awareness, to service men and women, to children, to hunger and homelessness. Every Monday, ten percent of each store’s net sales go to the nonprofit that it is promoting. Literature about the Mission Monday charity is posted at cash registers during its promotion, so Monday shoppers can learn even more about the new life their dollars will find beyond the shopping experience, as one-tenth of that money exchanging hands is going toward a philanthropic cause.

That should really make Altar’d State’s clients shine when they don their new bohemian flair!

Not only does the outfitter provide financial support to charities, but it also offers greatly-needed and too often overlooked manpower; its employees have contributed over 8,000 hours of their treasured time to carrying out community service tasks on a volunteer basis at the nonprofits they benefit.

“Giving back is more than just what we do… it’s who we are.”

And give Altar’d State does! In 2018 alone, the brand donated over $2.5 million to charitable causes through its “Give Back” brands, the sales of which have funded the construction of a number of high schools and community centers in Peru through a nonprofit organization called Coprodeli. The retailer also sponsors 200 children in high-risk areas of the country through the same charity, helping disadvantaged kids to receive nutritional, educational, and psychological support. Altar’d State employees may also choose to sponsor Coprodeli children individually, too.

While the business itself is fairly new – barely ten years old – it has done a whole lot of good in less than a decade.

Each and every day, one percent of Altar’d State’s total profits are directed toward Coprodeli causes. These contributions have also provided computers and books to students, as well as clothes, school supplies, and other necessities to sponsored kids. The “Give Back” incentive has supported relief efforts in times of disaster through the sale of globally-conscious T-shirts for causes, with proceeds being donated for the purchase of supplies in times of immediate need. In addition, members of the Altar’d State home office team have participated in a number of Habitat for Humanity construction projects.

From coffee to attire – but always giving back

While the business itself is fairly new – barely ten years old – it has done a whole lot of good in less than a decade. In November of 2009, the first Altar’d State, which was then both a retail store and coffee shop, opened in Knoxville, Tennessee. The original and lasting mission of its duo of founders, Aaron Walters and Brian Mason, is upheld to this very day: to utilize the retail industry to change the world for the better.

Little by little, the Altar’d State brand personality bloomed into the artful flower that is now poised in the garden of the fashion industry. Today, the company oversees more than 100 boutique stores in thirty U.S. states – each and every location contributing year-round to the efforts of local nonprofits.

Children Incorporated’s local store and great advocate for children is located at Short Pump Town Center in Glen Allen, Virginia. Many kids in Appalachia, our Inner City Division, our Native American Division, and in Altar’d State – Short Pump’s and our own backyard in Richmond, Virginia are staying warm and healthy this winter season because of Altar’d State’s Mission Monday program and the store’s chic, socially-conscious shoppers.

 

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HOW DO I DONATE TO THE WARM CLOTHING FUND?

You can donate to the Warm Clothing Fund 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 make a contribution to our Warm Clothing Fund.

written by Children Incorporated

Together, we provide children with the hope, opportunity, and education that will allow them to grow and contribute to their own communities. Thanks to past and current supporters around the globe, we now have over 300 projects in 23 countries which serve over 20,000 children annually. To date, over 250,000 children have been provided opportunities for growth and education and experienced the support and encouragement our programs provide.

» more of Children's stories

Spreading Warmth as Temperatures Drop

For most children, winter is a time of joy as they wait hopefully for snowfall and deep freezes. For those without warm clothes, however, winter is a season of cold and hardship.

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Because of donations to the Warm Clothing Fund, children have coats, hats and scarves.

That’s a problem volunteers and donors at Children Incorporated  have been working to fix for almost 25 years.

Children Incorporated’s Warm Clothing Fund raised $30,000 this year to provide coats, gloves, boots, and other warm clothes to children in need. More than 3,500 children around the United States received items this year, each specifically selected for their own individual needs.

They include children who don’t have sponsors and children whose needs exceed their sponsorship.

“In most cases, we’ve found that the sponsorship funds are stretched to the limit,” said Steve Mitchell, Children Incorporated’s Sponsorship Manager. “Clothes, food, school supplies, and hygiene items – even for our sponsored children, sometimes it’s just not enough. And unfortunately, there aren’t enough sponsors for every child who needs help.”

So where sponsorship leaves off, the Warm Clothing Fund picks up. Any child in need, whether sponsored or not, can get brand-new winter clothing, purchased specifically for them, through the fund.

The fund focuses primarily on the Appalachian Region of Kentucky and West Virginia, the Navajo Reservation in the Midwest, and inner-city areas of urban centers like Detroit, but it includes other communities around the country as well. Children Incorporated also spreads the warmth in its own backyard, providing winter clothing for students in Richmond City Public Schools in Virginia.

“Clothes, food, schools supplies, and hygiene items – even for our sponsored children, sometimes it’s just not enough. And unfortunately, there aren’t enough sponsors for every child who needs help.”

Coming in from the cold

The children’s parents sometimes request help – but usually teachers see the need before anyone even asks. When that happens, the teacher talks to our volunteer coordinator at the school. Volunteer coordinators are school employees, such as guidance counselors or resource coordinators, who work with nonprofits like Children Incorporated to get help for individual children.

“In many cases, the coordinator may meet with the family to talk about the child’s clothing needs,” Mitchell said. “Sometimes the coordinator gets to take the child out shopping to pick out their own items. It’s not always possible, but when they can – talk about making a child’s day!”

In other cases, the coordinator selects and purchases shoes, gloves, a coat or a scarf – sometimes all of them – and gives them to the child. The items are always new, and are individually selected for each child, based on their needs.

New shoes – for the first time

Jefferey Jackson, the coordinator at Blackwell Elementary School in Richmond, told the story of a child who was sent to his office with shoes a size-and-a-half too small. He called Mitchell at Children Incorporated, and Mitchell told him to use Warm Clothing Fund money to buy the boy a new pair of shoes in his size.

“This young man was extremely pleased when presented with his new shoes. He accepted them with a pledge to always keep them tied properly,” Jackson said. “Not long after our exchange, he returned to my office with a letter of gratitude. In this letter, spotted with tears, he confessed that this was the first time that he has had a brand new pair of shoes that were not handed down from another source.”

Zero degrees at the bus stop

In the colder parts of the country, the need becomes even more acute.

Debbie Fluty, assistant coordinator at Sheldon Clark High School in Kentucky, said the Warm Clothing Fund provides boots, coats, and socks for students in life-threatening cold.

“Some have to walk out of mountain hollows to catch the bus because buses cannot get to them. They have to stand in zero degree weather at the bus stops,” she said.

And many parents won’t send their children out into the cold without proper clothes, so when the temperature drops, students don’t come to school at all, said Mary Valenza, coordinator at Oak Grove-Bellemeade Elementary School in Richmond.

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Children Incorporated works to help as many children as we can by providing warm clothing during cold winter months.

We know that chronic absences lead to poor grades, and poor grades often result in a student being retained,” she said, noting that having a reliable source for coats, hats, gloves, and scarves has made a difference in attendance.

Problem solvers

“The Warm Clothing Fund has been successfully solving that problem for more than two decades, because it’s the kind of situation that really resonates with Children Incorporated donors,” said Mitchell.

“There’s an immediate remedy,” he said, explaining why the fund has been so successful for so long. “A child is cold – they need a coat. It’s something they can wrap their minds around. They think, ‘I can do this.’”

“They can also see the results for themselves”, he said,” since volunteer coordinators send pictures of children showing off their new winter clothing. And since a child’s coat is affordable for most donors, it’s a clear, easy, commitment-free way they can solve a problem quickly.”

“The volunteer coordinators are the ones who know the children best, and who know what each one needs the most- what we provide just depends on the needs of the children,” Mitchell said. “We’re just here to help as best as we can.”

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How can I donate to the Warm Clothing Fund?

You can donate by calling our office and speaking with one of our sponsorship specialists at 1-800-538-5381 or by emailing us at sponsorship@children-inc.org. Also, you can make a donation through our donation portal online.