Backpacks for George’s Creek Elementary School

Backpacks for George’s Creek Elementary School

Nearly one in four residents of the small town of Lonaconing, located in the Appalachian region of Maryland, live in poverty, about 10 percent higher than the natural average of 14 percent.

Many of these children’s parents struggle to just make sure there is plenty of food in the house for the family and juggle paying bills while getting by paycheck-to-paycheck on minimum-wage jobs.

Purchasing backpacks filled with all the items on their teacher’s school supply list is simply not something they can budget for, even when they know back-to-school season is quickly arriving when there’s no money to add to their household budget – especially when there are several school-age children in the family.

However, this August, thanks to the supporters of Americans Helping Americans®, we were able to provide 250 backpacks filled with school supplies to students at George’s Creek Elementary School.

For the children, the fear of shame and embarrassment of they may have had of entering their first class on the first day of school was eliminated. And for their parents, the stress of worrying about how to pay for such supplies was eliminated.

George’s Creek principal reported that most of the backpacks were given out during the school’s “Meet the Teacher night.

“Parents were appreciative and some even said they came just to get the bags,” she told us. “They didn’t have any money to purchase them.”

And she added,

“The students were proud to wear them.”

“Thank you so much.”

Sneedville Elementary students received the “Mighty Molars” dental kits

Sneedville Elementary students received the “Mighty Molars” dental kits

Hancock County has some of the best people in Tennessee, notes Brian Greene, principal of Hancock County Elementary School in the small town of Sneedville, who adds, however, “we are also a highly depressed area when it comes to jobs.”

“Because there are few jobs in the county, we have a high degree of poverty,” says Principal Greene who sees firsthand every day the strain that places on his students and their parents.

“What we think of as essentials, these families see as luxuries – like having toothbrushes and toothpaste at home.”

But thanks to the supporters of Americans Helping Americans®, many of his students today have “Mighty Molars” dental kits containing toothbrushes, a six-month supply of toothpaste and dental floss to help them keep their young teeth clean and strong – before it’s too late.

“We see students who have severe toothaches who suffer through the pain because their families don’t have money for dental care,” he reported. “I see a large number of moms and dads who have either rotten or missing teeth.”

Sneedville Elementary students received the Americans Helping Americans® “Mighty Molars” dental kits at a recent back-to-school event, but we know that throughout the school year the need will continue as new students transfer into the school, also in need of basic necessities including toothbrushes and toothpaste.

“Your idea to combat dental problems and improve self-esteem through dental hygiene is one of the best ideas we’ve seen in a long time,” said Principal Greene, adding that all of the school’s teachers have agreed to reinforce good dental hygiene habits to go along with the distribution of the dental kits.

Back-to-School in Beattyville

Back-to-School in Beattyville

On the morning of August 3, hundreds of Lee County, Kentucky students, and their parents arrived at Beattyville Elementary bright and early to wait in line for the school’s doors to open at 8:30 a.m.

No, it wasn’t for the first day of school just yet, but for its “Readifest” back-to-school event supported by Americans Helping Americans®.

Not only did the students receive backpacks and school kits filled with school supplies, they also received Americans Helping Americans® “MightyMolars” dental kits containing toothbrushes, floss and a six-month supply of toothpaste, as well as a brand-new pair of shoes through our “Barefeet” program.

“Everything was great!” reported Sherry Lanham, director of our partner there the Lee County Family Resource Center who oversees the annual event every year. “The backpacks and dental kits were a big hit.”

At Beattyville Elementary, every child receives breakfast and lunch through the federal free and reduced-price meals program in a community where the need is great.

“We had about 95 percent of our students attend, and the parents and kids were so excited,” she said. “Many told me that if not for this event, their child would not have had school supplies – and certainly not a backpack or shoes.”

On behalf of all of these children, moms and dads, we say thank you to all the supporters of Americans Helping Americans® who helped ensure that they will be “ready” for the first day of school just a few days away.

Dozens of kids sent to camp

Dozens of kids sent to camp

ABLE Families of Kermit, West Virginia, is our newest partner, and this summer we are proud to report that thanks to our generous supporters we were able to help send dozens of kids to camp operated by the grassroots nonprofit organization.

Each year, thanks to our generous supporters, we are able to provide hundreds of children throughout Appalachia with a fun-filled adventure at a summer camp where they enjoy participating in arts and crafts projects, take part in educational activities where they continue learning – perhaps without even realizing it – and, of course, are served meals and snacks that they likely would not be getting at home.

In fact, ABLE Families operates six or seven separate camps throughout the summer that offer a variety of enriching activities to keep children thinking, exercising, and eating well. Past camps have covered cooking, outdoor living, books, music, drama, dance, water safety, ecology, and various other topics.

Our new partnership with ABLE Families began this summer with a grant made possible by our supporters to assist the organization with the operation of its camps and just by looking at this photo of all these girls and young women in their Camp Appalachia t-shirts shows it was money well invested.

The Lunch Box Bus is rolling!

The Lunch Box Bus is rolling!

Monday, June 4, was a momentous day for hundreds of schoolchildren in Hancock and Hawkins counties, Tennessee – it was the first day of summer vacation that the Lunch Box bus came to their tiny communities bringing them a free, healthy and filling lunch.

Americans Helping Americans® is proud to be a national organization helping our partner there, Of One Accord, to make such a big difference for hungry children in the rural, northeast Appalachian region of the state.

Of One Accord Executive Director Rev. Sheldon Livesay noted at a ribbon-cutting ceremony marking the 2018 kickoff of the Lunch Box bus program which is now in its 13th year that they are on track to serve the 100,000th meal this summer.

In a video prepared for the supporters of Americans Helping Americans®, Rev. Livesay explained why the program is so necessary for the children they serve.

In large cities, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Summer Food Service Program is able to serve hundreds of children living within a few blocks of a feeding site, such as a school, church or community center.

“That’s not the case here in rural Appalachia,” he said.

Since the children can’t get to the meals, the meals are brought to the children on four Lunch Box buses which will operate for more than 40 weekdays this summer.

The buses traverse the rural two-lane roadways through the mountains to remote mobile home parks, community centers and low-income communities where between 15 to 25 kids and youth hop on, enjoy lunch with their siblings, friends, and neighbors, and hop off full and ready for an afternoon of fun with no worries about when they’re going to get their next meal.

“It takes several different stops to begin capturing those numbers of children and making it possible for everybody who needs help to get help,” he said.

While Of One Accord is reimbursed for the cost of the food itself by the USDA, it is up to Rev. Livesay to come up with the roughly $30,000 cost to operate the program which includes, bus fuel and maintenance, insurance, driver’s salaries and other miscellaneous expenses.

And thanks to our supporters we are able to help with a substantial portion of those costs.

“Americans Helping Americans® is a national organization that is supporting us this year,” stated Rev. Livesay in the video kicking off the 2018 season. “They’re doing a fundraiser for us through the month, and we certainly want to thank you, Americans Helping Americans®.

“God bless each and everyone one of you.”