In Beattyville, Kentucky life is hard for parents and children alike, as documented by an article in The New York Times describing it as one of the “hardest” places to live in the United States.

Thanks to the supporters of Americans Helping Americans® in the fall and winter, school children receive school supplies, winter coats and new shoes, and through our effort to bridge the digital divide in the distressed community, 30 deserving children are selected to receive all-in-one desktop computers to use at home to do their homework and communicate with their teacher when school is closed due to inclement weather.

Many actually dread the summer break, knowing it can mean long days alone at home alone with nothing to do.

But through our partnership with Cumberland Mountain Outreach in Lee County a projected 250 children and youth will attend its Kids’ Day Camp and Teen Leadership program.

The camp provides day care and proper nutrition for the children whose parents cannot afford to send their child to the only other camp operated in the county, which costs about $100 per week.

“While our families are struggling to eat, paying for camp is out of the question,” says Cumberland Mountain Outreach Executive Director Cindy Evanoff, who noted that without their camp during the summer, many of these children would simply sit at home while eating unhealthy food and get very little or even no exercise.

At Cumberland Mountain Outreach’s day camp, which runs for five weeks, three days per week, the children will get breakfast, lunch and healthy snacks throughout the day, participate in singing and other enjoyable activities and get at least two hours of physical activity.

In a county where nearly 90 percent of elementary school children qualify for the free lunch program and the median household income is less than $20,000 and about half the population below the federal poverty level, Cumberland Mountain Outreach’s day camp creates an opportunity of a lifetime for these children.

“With this type of poverty in our county it is impossible for families to meet their basic needs and summer camp and other summer activities are seen as a luxury only for those who have money,” said Cindy.

She cites several reasons why the day camp is so important to low-income children in the community: To make sure they are not home alone or in an environment of neglect, or even abuse; providing an opportunity for healthy outdoor physical activities; and the camp’s most important function – making sure children are fed and healthy during the summer.

“We want all of our children to know they are loved and that we will be here for them with food, clothing, counseling and another other services they may need,” says Cindy.

To be continued ….