Winter can be especially difficult for children living in poverty.  Fiercely cold weather, when compounded by poverty, is not just a moderate source of discomfort or inconvenience; it becomes a true obstacle, making it difficult for students to keep warm, attend school, and receive nutritious food.

Our schools in Eastern Kentucky, for example, have already seen their fair share of inclement weather and especially cold temperatures this season, resulting in widespread school closings.  Furthermore, even when school is in session, the cold weather impacts students’ ability to attend classes.

“The recent arctic blast makes it difficult to wait for the bus in the mornings,” Donna Sturgill, our voluteer coordinator at West Whitesburg Elementary School, reports, “so attendance can be an issue.”

Missing school, whether due to school closings or weather-related student absences, causes children in our program to miss out on more than just a day of classwork and assignments.

“Our school district was one of the few in the state of Kentucky that didn’t cancel classes due to the frigid temperatures last week,” Marsha Walker, assistant coordinator at Hazard Independent Schools, reports.  “If a student missed school due to the temperatures or safety concerns, not only was instructional time missed, but so were two free HOT cooked meals.  Granted, that may not seem like much, and I’m sure many adults have skipped a breakfast or lunch and it doesn’t seem like an issue.  However, when you consider that some of our students only receive hot meals at school, and that lunch is served hours before dismissal, many of the students who were absent may have gone hungry.  Not the ‘I need a snack’ hungry, but the type of hungry that causes your stomach to grumble and your head to ache.”

Children lacking sufficient winter clothing, however, may not be much warmer staying home from school.  Ms. Sturgill reports that the local electric company has announced another imminent increase in energy costs.

“Families have already had to go back to coal and wood for heat, myself included,” she confesses.

Sponsored students in our program receive cold-weather gear such as warm clothing, gloves, scarves, and coats to help them combat these frigid temperatures and to minimize the weather’s negative impact upon their education and nutrition.

Several students at our affiliated schools in Kentucky are still awaiting sponsorship – and struggling to get by.

HOW DO I Donate to the Warm Clothing Fund?

You can donate in one of three ways – call our office and speak with one of our sponsorship specialists at 1-800-538-5381, email us at sponsorship@children-inc.org, or go online to our donation portal, create and account, and donate to the Warm Clothing Fund.

Spotlight, Kentucky

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written by Shelley Callahan

Shelley is the Director of Development for Children Incorporated. She is also the lead social correspondent, regularly contributing insights and observations on site conditions and sponsorship impact around the world. Sign up for her On the Road updates and follow the conversation at #CIOntheRoad.

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