Three schools in southeast D.C. — Lucy Ellen Moten Elementary, John Hayden Johnson Middle, and Charles Hart Middle — and one in Northwest — Cardozo Elementary Education Campus — have caught the charitable eye of a Richmond, Virginia-based nonprofit that provides clothing, school supplies and hygiene and grooming items to vulnerable children.
Children Incorporated also provides emergency assistance and they’ve arranged a food truck once a month to arrive at each school so that parents can purchase fresh fruit and vegetables that aren’t available at area stores and that allow students to enjoy healthy meals.
“One of the things in particular that we’ve noticed in Ward 8 and in Ward 1 is that there aren’t many grocery stores and there’s a real void for kids to be able to get fresh fruit and fresh vegetables,” said Children Incorporated CEO Ron Carter.
“Many of the families tend to live off of what they can buy from Family Dollar or Dollar General and they’re not getting balanced meals, so we’ve worked to have a food truck come once a month so that the parents can shop for the fresh produce they can’t get from those stores,” Carter said.
Children Incorporated not only seeks to assist with students’ educational needs but nutritional needs too, he said.
In Ward 8, most children either walk, or receive free tokens to ride the regular city buses while basic shopping, cultural and recreational facilities are minimal and scanty, said Carter, who said the children tend to “be invisible.”
Ward 8 has been called “a socio-economic basket case,” with about three quarters of the total acreage owned by federal or city entities, so businesses and residences cannot locate on those lots and pay taxes.
In Ward 1, Carter said there’s a high percentage of students who are homeless, living in shelters, or on a short-term living arrangement with various relatives or friends.
“About 10 years ago, we started working in Richmond and in those schools we found that a lot of times the kids are invisible. People incorrectly believe because they live in a big city that they have everything that they need,” Carter said.
“But, so many kids go without. We got a call from a [contact] in Detroit and then about eight years ago, there was a group in DC that wanted us to work with them and we’ve been there ever since,” he said.
At a time when people often feel helpless in a world where they want to make a difference, Children Incorporated decided to team with an “an old friend to launch a new effort intended to bring thousands of new donors into the fold — to empower people to do something that actually changes the world for the better.”
Twenty years ago, Dr. Richard Carlson’s best-selling book “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” forged a legacy that is carried on by Carlson’s widow, Kristine, selling 25 million copies and magnifying the global movement towards mindfulness and self-care.
It was the book’s mention of Children Incorporated as the Carlson’s preferred charity that was, in the words of current Director of Development Shelley Callahan, “one of the most meaningful things to happen to our organization.”
Since sponsorships are the lifeblood of Children Incorporated’s work, the infusion of so many child benefactors had a profound and lasting impact, organization officials said.
Children Incorporated’s global mission is to confront childhood poverty through direct intervention: getting the donated money, goods, and services directly to the children and families who need them most.
Reaching over 250,000 children in 23 countries over the last few decades, Children Incorporated currently supports over 300 programs and projects, from building schools in Bolivia, to clean water initiatives in India, to inner-city projects in Detroit and Washington DC, to “backpack feeding” Appalachian kids who might not otherwise have anything to eat on the weekends.
Carter said anyone can contribute to the cause, either through volunteer efforts or donations.
“The coordinators working in the schools are going to make sure that if a child needs food, he’ll get food; if a child needs books, he’ll get books,” Carter said.
“I think if we’ve failed in any way it’s that we haven’t been able to expand as much as we’d like to,” he said.
For more information, go to www.childrenincorporated.org.