Hunger in America: Brittany’s Story

“I think people don’t realize that a lot of middle-class people can be struggling.”

It’s the shameful truth—too many families in the United States work hard but are falling behind. They’re technically above the poverty line, but still living paycheck to paycheck. An unexpected health emergency or major car repair pushes them from barely making it into true crisis.

Nobody should live this way, least of all children.

Take Tanya*, a mother of two who works hard and wants the best for her kids. She wants them to have the chance to have a happy childhood and grow up and follow their dreams.

But sometimes the difficulty of everyday life gets in the way — even for families where both parents have jobs and are working hard to provide for their children. Tanya’s husband is a truck driver, and his job takes him away for days at a time. He’ll often come home from work in the middle of the night, take a shower, and be gone the next day. Sometimes it’s easier just to sleep in the truck than disturb the family in the middle of the night.

11-year-old Brittany
11-year-old Brittany

Tanya’s daughter Brittany is a creative 11 year old with lots of potential. She loves to sing and composes her own songs. When she’s not making music, she’s probably practicing her gymnastics moves. Brittany’s brother Christopher is six years old but seems much older than his years.

Despite having two incomes, the family struggles. Tanya’s husband’s job isn’t consistent. Sometimes they have to decide which bills to pay and which ones to let slide until the next paycheck, or which expenses to put on the credit card. Some months, simple grocery items like chicken or ground beef are simply out of reach.

Each summer, the kids receive a list of school supplies for the upcoming year. Those times are especially hard for the family. In addition to the standard crayons and glue, school supply lists these days include large boxes of disinfectant wipes and jumbo bottles of hand sanitizer. And the kids are supposed to bring three packs of crayons, not one, because the class pools their supplies. These supplies can be a hardship for families struggling to meet even basic needs. But Tanya wants her kids and their classmates to have what they need to get a good education.

“I think people don’t realize that a lot of middle-class people can be struggling,” Tanya says. “And maybe they are too embarrassed to go even seek help, and they’ll just struggle . . . and just suffer.”

Tanya knows what it’s like to struggle and suffer. Thankfully, she also knows that her local food pantry, one of Feed the Children’s partner agencies, can help in her family’s time of need.

“A little bit of extra help from the pantry makes a big difference,” she explains.

6-year-old Christopher
6-year-old Christopher

The support Brittany’s family receives from the food pantry has a ripple effect. Getting a little help with food frees up some of the family income to buy other necessities, such as school supplies and clothes. Tanya always wants her kids to have what they need to succeed in school.

Your support changes the lives of children like Brittany and Christopher. Thank you for giving to provide food, essentials and hope to struggling families here at home.

*Names have been changed to protect the family’s privacy. 

Do It for Ally

The need is urgent—and the time is now.

You have just three days left to make a donation to Feed the Children so it can count as a tax deduction for 2015. More importantly, your gift today will go five times further, thanks to the generosity of our corporate partners. Each dollar you give provides $5 worth of food and essentials for hungry, hurting children and families.

For more than 35 years, Feed the Children has worked to create a world where no child goes to bed hungry. We can’t do it without you. But together, we can work miracles. During the last fiscal year, Feed the Children distributed some $78 million in food, other necessities, educational supplies, and medicine to children worldwide. And folks like you sponsored 11,500 children.

Together, we are helping kids be kids. But our work isn’t done. We’re currently experiencing a shortfall for 2015, so we need you more than ever.

*7-2015 TZ0002 - Ally 1Ally is just one of the children we serve. A student at one of our partner schools in Tanzania, he knows firsthand the impact of Feed the Children’s work. Just five years ago, his fellow pupils were suffering from a rash of stomachaches. Kids were missing school—of the 418 children enrolled, some 20 students were missing lessons in any given week. Other kids were kept home because their parents worried about them catching the illness. Latrines were dirty and substandard. And the school had an inadequate water supply—children were being asked to bring water from home for their personal needs.

Today, it’s a whole new situation. 

  • Feed the Children has installed rainwater harvesting systems by setting water tanks at school. This has helped children to easily have water in school.
  • Feed the Children has kept water buckets closer to latrines for hand washing after kids have visited the toilet and has helped educate the community of the importance of hand-washing.
  • Feed the Children established a school feeding project, in which kids in the school are receiving mid-morning breakfast.
  • In partnership with TOMS shoes, Feed the Children has been distributing shoes in the school.

“We thank Feed the Children for assuring our school becomes a safe environment for children,” said one of the school’s head teachers. “We thank Feed the Children for their tireless efforts, and for continuing to be part of us.”

Ally is grateful for the turnaround too. “Without Feed the Children, water tanks would not be here, and even the hand-wash project wouldn’t have happened. You have saved the lives of many children, and rescued the academic performance of our village.”

We’re thankful too—thankful for people like you who have partnered with us for these 35 years. Now is the time to step up again. Make your gift by the end of the year. You’ll get a break on your 2015 taxes, but more critically, you’ll be helping children just like Ally have a healthy, happy and hunger-free 2016. Give now.

News Roundup, December 28, 2015

Bikers with a Big Heart

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Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A. recently presented a check for $31,373 to Feed the Children as part of its Ninth Annual Feed the Children Charity Day at the company’s Cypress, CA, headquarters.

The money was raised through the ‘hard work and generosity of its employees, according to Yamaha.

Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A., raises money for Feed the Children through employee donations, special dealer fundraising activities, and direct corporate donations from Yamaha’s customer satisfaction team. The company’s Customer Satisfaction Survey program makes a donation for each survey returned by a Yamaha Motorsports customer.

“Feed the Children is proud to partner with Yamaha Motor Corporation,” said Travis Arnold, Feed the Children Interim CEO/President and COO. “We know that, when we combine our efforts, we will have a greater impact on the lives of families who need us most–right here in America.”

Star Touring And Riding (S.T.A.R.) volunteers were on hand at the event to help deliver donated food and supplies to the local Feed the Children office at the end of the day.

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Feed the Children Headquarters Provides Hands-on Help

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“We were going to only have sandwiches on Christmas day…”
“This food is saving our lives…”
“I walked 4 miles to get here…”
“We live in this car…”

These are just a few personal stories we heard at our distribution event in Oklahoma City.

Thanks to a generous gift from the Elizabeth Stevens estate, we were able to distribute a semitruck full of food and essentials to help over 400 Oklahoma families in need earlier this month. And, a very special thanks to Mid First Bank for providing warm hats and a helping hand in the cold.

Families from Hilldale Elementary School were the recipients of the food and supplies, which included a 25-pound food box; a 10-pound box of basic essentials like shampoo, conditioner, lotion, and personal-care items; a box of assorted Avon products, as well as blankets, backpacks, Disney books, and hats from MidFirst Bank.

“One hundred percent of our students come from poverty,” said Hilldale Elementary Principal Price Brown. “We’re always looking for opportunities that make sure our students are able to enjoy holidays and feel like other kids.”

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A Very Special Graduation

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The Dorina Kal Early Childhood Development Center (ECDC) in Uganda held a graduation ceremony for eleven kids moving on from kindergarten to Class 1.

The event, held last month, was attended by parents, teachers and community members, all of whom were as excited as the kids themselves. The little ones dressed up in convocation gowns and wore happy faces as they strode in confidence. Each child received a certificate of kindergarten completion that would allow them admission to class one. Feed the Children gave the kids books and pencils.

During their speeches, community leaders counseled parents on the importance of education. Feed the Children’s representative, Acire Mugisha, also spoke, urging parents to continue nurturing their kids so they can realize and achieve their dreams.

Feed the Children’s partnership with Dorina Kal ECDC goes back to early 2013, when we first engaged with the community. We later constructed classrooms to host kindergarten children in Pabbo Sub County in Northern Uganda, then began providing mid-morning porridge and lunch.  The meals are crucial, since a majority of the children do not have breakfast at home—the meals also attract kids to attend school.

In helping kids to be kids, and in an effort to create a conducive learning environment for young learners, Feed the Children also supported the center with playing equipment like seesaws, swings, and slides. We also drilled a shallow well (borehole) in the kindergarten compound, which serves the kids in school as well as the surrounding community to provide for clean water when the seasonal streams dry up during the dry season.

Feed the Children also promotes health practices like washing hands with soap, and we constructed a drainable latrine at the center to promote good hygiene practices.  We worked closely with the local government, who inspected the facility to ensure quality standards were adhered to before kids used the latrines.

Feed the Children also promotes kitchen gardens; the school grows vegetable which are used to supplement meals provided by Feed the Children. kids now have a balanced diet sourced from the garden.

Congratulations to the children and their families—may the good work in this community continue!

-Edna Onchiri

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Food and Fun in Phoenix… and Beyond

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PepsiCo celebrated its third annual Feeding Phoenix Event earlier this month, bringing food, hygiene, and Avon products to 800 families in the area. PepsiCo employees served as volunteers for the event, working with partner agencies Phoenix Rescue Mission and the Salvation Army.

Additional partners brought holiday cheer to the kids in attendance. JAKKS Toys provided toys for the children, and First Book made sure kids left the event with a book to call their own.

But the generosity doesn’t stop in Phoenix. We’ve had a busy month ensuring families have a happy holidays, with food distribution events in Nashville; Jamaica, NY; and Blytheville, AR.

And in Unadilla, GA, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver David Ragan joined the effort, helping provide some 400 families with food and supplies. Ragan was the highest bidder for a hauler full of food at the Waltrip Brothers Charity Championship event last month.

“I am excited to partner with Feed the Children and The Lord’s Pantry to help provide meals for 400 families in my hometown of Unadilla and Dooly County,” Ragan said. “During the Waltrip Brothers Charity Championship event, I met the Feed the Children group and learned how they can impact a community like mine. During this Christmas season, it will be a blessing to provide help for families in need.”

You are an indispensable part of this work. Donate now so we can continue helping kids be kids, and creating a world where no child goes to bed hungry.

What to Give the Loved One Who Has Everything

It’s four days before Christmas—are you ready?

Chances are good you’re still stressing over that handful of people on your gift list. What do you do for the relative who has everything?

Or maybe you’ve been so busy going through your holiday to-do list that you feel disconnected from the “reason for the season.”

We have a solution—our gift catalog.

Feed the Children is helping to create a season of hope for children and families in need at home and around the world with its annual Holiday Gift Catalog. This special edition catalog offers one-of-a-kind gifts that will send a message of hope – and life – to those without life’s essentials. These gifts are a great way to honor special people in your life—people who don’t need another Christmas necktie or pair of socks.

This year’s catalog is filled with Feed the Children’s most popular gifts to help children and families in need just in time for the holidays. These gifts don’t just help improve peoples’ well-being, health and livelihoods. They also bring great joy. They help them know they’re not forgotten. 

No child should have to suffer the pain of hunger and poverty, so the Holiday Gift Catalog features items that will help children and families fill their pantries, restore their lives and begin the holiday season with renewed hope for the future.

You can check out the full catalog here, or let us do the work for you—here are our top seven gifts that can provide life-changing hope, all under $100.

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1. Provide one chicken for $14.

A chicken means fresh eggs and meat for international families to eat. The eggs and meat can also be sold to neighbors or in markets throughout each country. Purchase here.

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2. Provide one goat for $79.

Goats are a source of meat and milk for families globally, providing much-needed nourishment, and their offspring can be sold to generate income to help a family overcome poverty. Purchase here.

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3. Help feed school children in Kenya with a traditional meal of Githeri (corn and beans) for $22.

Feed the Children serves meals to 137,410 school-aged children in more than 170 schools. Your gift will help children thrive physically and mentally. Purchase here.

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4. Provide water purification tablets for two families for one year for $29.

Even clean water can become contaminated while being carried home or stored for later use. These tablets are one of the most cost-effective ways to prevent diarrhea and other waterborne health issues greatly affecting international countries. Purchase here.

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5. Provide one food box, one essential box, and one holiday turkey for $57.

Families in the U.S. will receive a 25-pound food box, a 10-pound box of basic essentials and a 10- to 12-pound frozen turkey to help them celebrate the holidays. Purchase here.

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6. Equip a child with a backpack and school supplies for $20.

Some children in America don’t have the basic items they need to succeed in school. Each backpack is filled with school supplies, children’s books, hygiene items, and healthy snack food. Purchase here.

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7. Provide one food box and one essentials box for $38.

This gift will help fight childhood hunger in America by providing much-needed food and other essentials like laundry detergent and shampoo for families in need. Each box supplements a family of four for up to a week. Purchase here.

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“We believe that no child should go to bed hungry in a world where there is plenty of food,” said Travis Arnold, Feed the Children Interim CEO/President and COO. “But the reality is, millions of boys and girls across the globe face this hardship every day. With this catalog, our donors and supporters are able to bring help and hope to families during the holiday season.”

Get that gift list done so you can enjoy the rest of the holiday! Check our catalog today.

Hunger and the Holidays: Help Feed Our Neighbors

Editor’s Note: The following article was originally posted on the IF:Gathering website. We are thankful for the partnership with IF:Gathering, which has been highlighting the work of Feed the Children on their blog for the last several months.

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” croons the voice over the sound system at the mall. It’s also one of the busiest times of year for many people. We’re looking for just the right gifts for the people we love most. We’re cooking for the neighborhood potluck, or testing out recipes for the cookie exchange, or attending kids’ holiday concerts—and the list goes on.

The hustle and bustle of this season can feel overwhelming. But few of us reading this probably have to deal with piecing together a plan for getting our kids enough food on top of everything else.

Sadly, that’s a reality for too many families, such as Shawntaneice, a single mother of two sweet boys in a small Appalachian town.

Shawntaneice had a comfortable and stable childhood, supported by her chef father and a nurturing mother. She’s brought that same stability to her own children, eight year old Ah’Johreyan and seven year old Ah’Darian. They didn’t have a lot of frills, but she was able to provide a comfortable home, three square meals, and the occasional treat— a fast-food meal or small toy.

All that changed when she was let go from her job at a food processing plant. Shawntaneice has a strong work ethic. She’s worked from the time she was old enough to do so-so this job loss was a personal blow. She’s been on lots of interviews and is trying to find temp work, but she hasn’t had much luck.

As a single mother, the job loss is a major economic blow. These days, putting food on the table means cobbling together a plan using all kinds of sources. Food stamps only do part of the job; by mid-month they’re starting to run out. So Shawnteneice has to ask her family for help, or wrangle a dinner invitation from a friend. She’s been to food pantries, she says. The school lunch program is a Godsend for her boys. She’s considered asking people she knows for a loan, but how could she ever pay it back? The hole keeps getting bigger.

There have been a couple of times that she’s had to put the kids to bed hungry. In those cases, she gives them something to drink, so they’ll have something in their bellies. Then she tries to keep them entertained until they fall asleep, their minds distracted from the pangs.

Holidays can be the hardest time for families like Shawntaneice’s. Food is hard enough to cobble together; a Christmas tree and gifts seem impossible. “You know, a child waking up on Christmas morning and not having gifts… they’re not going to understand that.”

As we go about our preparations for Christmas, let’s also remember Shawntaneice and her family—and so many people facing similar struggles. Say a prayer. Give to your local food pantry. And for that person on your list who already “has everything,” consider a donation in their name to Feed the Children. Jesus asked us to feed the hungry and care for the stranger. What better way to honor his birth than taking His words to heart?

During this season of Christmas, consider giving to Feed the Children this year — an organization fighting every day to create a world where no child goes to bed hungry. Visit Feed the Children’s Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram pages and give them a like or a follow, so you can learn more about their work.

A Big Word of Thanks

As the United States prepares to gather around Thanksgiving tables this week, many of us feel thankful for the abundance of blessings in our lives. Families will gather, tables will be set, hands will be clasped and words of gratitude shared.

Yet we know that half a world away, and right in our own communities, people still struggle to eke out a living or to put enough food on the table.
One in seven children around the world are hurt by the scourge of poverty.
Three thousand children under age 5 die every day from diseases that come from dirty water.

Sometimes the news is so bad, it’s tempting to tune out. We turn on cable news, or even our social media feeds, and the stories can assault our senses.

The challenges we face as a people can seem overwhelming, and too often it feels like progress is impossible.

It’s a privilege to work with people just like you—people who share out of their abundance, and in some cases their poverty, to make sure children around the world have a box of food, or a backpack full of fresh new school supplies, or a pair of sturdy shoes, or a nutritious hot meal at school each day. On this day of Thanksgiving, we’re grateful for you.

The needs of our neighbors around the world and around the corner seem greater than we can manage. But as Mother Theresa put it, “We can do no great things, just small things with great love.” And those small things add up—we see it happen every day. It’s in the couple who sponsors a child, or the twenty-something who rolls up her sleeves to pack food boxes, or the child who uses his allowance to buy a water purification kit for a family he’ll never even meet.

These small acts of goodness give us hope and make our work possible. But even more importantly, these gifts actually work to stem the tide of poverty and malnutrition. Internationally, in fiscal year 2014, Feed the Children distributed 20 million pounds of food, medicine, and other necessities valued at $78 million to children and families in 18 countries, benefiting over 4.9 million individuals globally. Around the world, close to 263,000 children are fully engaged in our child-focused food and nutrition programs, which regularly provide nutritious meals to children who may otherwise go an entire day without eating. Last year, Feed the Children sponsored over 11,500 children, addressing the root causes of poverty through child sponsorship and school sponsorship.

In addition to our donors, we’re thankful today to work side by side with incredible communities, families and children who dream big dreams for a life beyond poverty, and who are willing to work hard to make those dreams a reality. Consider Ashly, a five-year-old from Honduras. We’ve been partnering with her community since 2007; the partnership began with an AIDS prevention project and has grown and flourished over the years.

In 2011, Feed the Children inaugurated a Community Feeding Center and stocked it with kitchen supplies, a stove, benches and chairs, and food supplies. The Feeding Center is run by mothers in the community and it provides more than 400 children a hot meal 5 times a week. Ashly and her siblings are provided with two pairs of TOMS shoes a year, and last year the children received vitamins which helped improve their general health. Such assistance greatly alleviates the economic burden at home, but more importantly, it can help break the cycle of poverty by providing Ashly and other children a chance for a more stable and fruitful life.

Ashly and her mother.
Ashly and her mother.

Ashly’s mother is overwhelmed with gratitude: “This program has been a blessing to the whole community. Feed the Children really cares about our children’s welfare.” And Ashly says, “My mother can now buy more food for our family thanks to Feed the Children.”

On behalf of Ashly, and children around the world—thank you.

As we enter this season of giving and joy, you have an opportunity to support children just like Ashly, around the world and close to home. This Tuesday, December 1 is Giving Tuesday, and you’re invited to stand with us to help end child hunger once and for all. Each of our small actions will combine to make a big impact. Visit www.crowdrise.com/feedthechildren-tower to make your donation. And share this opportunity with your friends on social media and ask them to join you.

Gratitude upon gratitude.
Gift by gift—
We will make a difference.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all.

A Season of Celebration

As the start of another Christmas season begins, it is often welcomed with mixed emotions of reflection from the year that we are about to put behind us. For me, this Christmas will be our daughter’s first Christmas with our family following the completion of her Ethiopia adoption just a few months ago! Unfortunately, this will also be our first Christmas without my Grandmother who went to be with Jesus this past May. Joy and pain, all colliding into one season of remembrance and celebration.

 

When I think about the first Christmas, I am reminded of how Jesus’ birth was cause for amazing celebration during a time of tremendous struggle. Have you ever considered how Jesus was born into poverty while his birth family was traveling as refugees? A stark contrast to my childhood memories of running down the stairs on Christmas morning to a warm, fire-lit living room filled with presents, food, and cheerful music playing…

 

But we celebrate not because of the condition in which Jesus was born into, but because of the world that He dreamed was possible through His Church. A dream in which no child goes to bed hungry.

 

This Christmas, Feed The Children’s artist program is partnering with the biggest names in the music industry to help inspire generosity in the season of giving through child sponsorship! Our goal: Let kids be kids! We want to be a part of building a world where children are empowered to grow, learn, dream, explore, wonder, and thrive! What if this Christmas, you and your family added another “first” to your list? What if the Christmas of 2015 will be remembered as the Christmas in which you sponsored a child at one of your favorite concerts? Join us on the Newsong Christmas Tour and The K-Love Christmas Tour this December to witness some of the best Christmas tours on the road and to hear about the great work that Feed The Children is able to accomplish because of faithful givers like you.

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Newsong Christmas (Newsong, Building 429, Plumb, Reno) 

12.2 – Marietta, GA

12.3 – Charleston, SC

12.4 – Kinston, NC

12.6 – Whiteville, NC

12.6 – Warner Robbins, GA

12.8 – Marion, IL

12.10 – Panama City, FL

12.11 – Pascagoula, MS

12.12 – Tallahassee, FL

12.13 – Woodstock, GA

12.14 – Port St. Lucie, FL

12.17 – Greenville, TN

12.18 – Kernersville, NC

12.19 – Fort Mill, SC

12.20 – Lakeland, FL

 

K-Love Christmas (Tenth Avenue North, Natalie Grant, Sidewalk Prophets, Danny Gokey) 

12.3 – Indianapolis, IN

12.4 – Pittsburgh, PA

12.5 – Reading, PA

12.6 – Stamford, CT

12.8 – Charlotte, NC

12.10 – Chicago, IL

12.11 – Lexington, KY

12.12 – Kansas City, MO

12.13 – Denver, CO

12.15 – Phoenix, AZ

12.16 – Albuquerque, NM

12.17 – Oklahoma City, OK

12.18 – Baton Rouge, LA

12.19 – Little Rock, AR

12.20 – San Antonio, TX

 

*All dates / cities subject to change without notice. Please refer to the artist’s website for the most up-to-date concert and ticketing information.

 

Merry Christmas!

A World Where No Child Goes to Bed Hungry

Editor’s Note: The following article was originally posted on the IF:Gathering website. We are thankful for the partnership with IF:Gathering, which has been highlighting the work of Feed the Children on their blog for the last several months.

For too many families across our country, hunger is an ever-present reality. There’s not enough money to pay the bills. Food stamps help many people, but they often don’t bridge the gap to the next paycheck. People who never thought they’d have to ask for help find themselves appealing to family, friends, and churches for assistance to get by. And yet each morning, they get up and keep going—going to work, sometimes a double shift; caring for children, maybe with medical needs; finding the resourcefulness to make it through another day. Their persistence is amazing, but it shouldn’t happen in the richest nation in the world.

Consider Cassondra, single mother of two bright and spirited young children. Samuel is your typical rough-and-tumble three year old. And Carmen, the two year old, is Cassondra’s “miracle baby”: hospitalized at birth, on a ventilator for the first two-and-a-half weeks of her life. She’s healthy now—a little delayed in some of her milestones, but full of spirit. “They evolve into beautiful kids every single day,” Cassondra says with obvious pride. “And I love it. I love being a mom.”

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Cassondra has a steady job in a canning factory. She works the night shift, but calls it the “graveyard shift” with a laugh because she’s tired all the time. She was lucky recently to get three days of overtime. That will help with expenses, but still, the money runs out. Food stamp benefits last her about half the month. From time to time, she has to pawn her belongings to make ends meet.

When they go to Walmart, Sam asks for toys he sees in the checkout counter. What child doesn’t? But Cassondra has to tell him “no.” “There’s countless times that I’ve broken down crying because I didn’t have anything for the kids, or for myself. But I would rather them eat and me go without than me eat and them go without.”

No mother should have to make that choice.

Tosha’s story is both similar and different—hunger has common themes, but a million different faces. Tosha is the mother of four children ranging in age from 8 to 14. Like Cassondra, she bursts with love and pride when she talks about them. Like Cassondra, she worries when the money runs out, and pawns her belongings to make the dollars stretch.

“I just try to show my kids I’m strong, I can do it, we’ll figure it out,” Tosha says. “They don’t even know half the time what’s really going on, but it’s very hard. Our cabinets have been empty several times.”

For most of us reading this, an empty cabinet means life got busy and hectic—a quick trip to the grocery store and our shelves are stocked again without another thought. But for too many women like Cassondra and Tosha, empty cabinets are a sign of shame. Holidays can be excruciating. Two Christmases ago, Tosha remembers, the family wasn’t even able to afford a special meal—they ate just like any other day. The kids got a few presents, but they had to wait until January for them, when the family was on better financial footing to afford them. “A month later kind of takes the fun out of Christmas,” she said.

Tosha suffers from kidney issues, so she’s not able to work. Thankfully, her husband got a job—not a great one, but it’s something. And like Cassondra, Tosha is thankful for food stamps, but they rarely last the month.

These stories hurt our hearts. And we believe they hurt God’s heart as well.

That’s why we’re proud we’ve partnered with Feed the Children this year — an organization fighting every day to create a world where no child goes to bed hungry. Visit Feed the Children’s Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram pages and give them a like or a follow, so you can learn more about their work.

International Travel: Impressions

In our social-media, digitally-obsessed world, there’s no lack of opportunity of getting seen or heard. Countless times throughout the day we can post about every aspect of our lives and get a response. But not everyone has this opportunity.

As a Producer, Writer, and Photographer for Feed the Children, I’ve had the life-changing opportunity to travel the world and produce programs and videos, as well as photograph our work internationally. Over the years, I’ve interviewed thousands of people that we serve — from many countries, tribes, villages, slums — you name it. Sadly, many of these people are far removed from the conscience of the world. They have no electricity, no iPhones, iPads, computers — in essence, no voice in our modern culture. Yet, despite the enormous hardships and suffering they endure on a daily basis, they are truly some of the strongest people I’ve ever met.

I’m getting ready once again for a very big trip. I’ll be traveling with two other videographers/photographers to Kenya, Uganda, and the Philippines for the entire month of November – which will be the longest and farthest trip I’ve taken so far in my tenure at Feed the Children.

Tanya M. ROloff Photography
Tanya M. Roloff Photography

But despite the ENORMOUS task of preparing to be gone that long, I am driven to push through all the details — packing, dangers, exhaustion, thousands of miles of travel, and obstacles — for two main reasons. The first reason is to continue to bring help and hope to the many children and families who do not have access to food and life’s essentials. This is the mission of Feed the Children, and the heart of God as well, and is what drives me into the oftentimes dangerous places we go to get the stories that help us continue to raise awareness and support for the work Feed the Children does.

And the second reason is to give these amazing children and people a voice. I was doing a story in El Salvador a few years back and one of our security guards who accompanied us told me at the end of our trip that it was a great thing we were doing by interviewing and talking to the families. He sort of got emotional and said, “Were it not for us getting their story, they might die having never been known.”

“Die having never been known.” Those words are permanently marked on my heart. I’ll never forget them. This, to me, is one of the biggest rewards of my work — to give these resilient, beautiful, talented, incredible people a voice and a platform to share their struggles, hopes, dreams, pains, fears … a platform so many of us have at our fingertips, yet take for granted. Truth be told, they’re always the ones that help me more than I could ever imagine by allowing me to tell their stories. And despite all the jet-lag, sickness, and every other challenge we face, it’s worth it all in the end! I take a piece of them with me everywhere I go. They’ve left an indelible impression on my heart and I can’t wait for what lies ahead.

Historic amounts of rain and flooding in South Carolina

( Image courtesy of South Carolina Emergency Division )

Hurricane Joaquin was expected to make landfall Monday, October 5, 2015. The category 3 storm was erratic and strengthening as it headed toward the Bahamas. After this extremely dangerous storm left Rum Cay and San Salvador, it veered east leaving the Bahamas in distress. With 120 mph winds, its hurricane force extended outward for 35 miles producing heavy rain and flooding in the North East.

The heaviest rainfall totals in SC were 26.88 inches. This multi-day event caused severe flash flooding along with major river flooding at several locations. Moderate to major flooding will persist across the central and eastern portions of the state. Flooding is expected to continue along coastal areas as slow water recession will likely follow.

* At its peak, over 25,000 customers were reported without power

* Statewide over 270 roads are closed along with 140 bridges.

* Over 900 SC residents have been evacuated (200 in Columbia)

* 17 confirmed storm related fatalities (with the media reporting 19)

* 18 schools systems and colleges are reported closed

* 24 shelters open with over 600 occupants.

Feed the Children is responding to this event. We are currently allocating supplies to one of our community partners with operations based in Columbia, Operation Compassion. We also are supporting House of Destiny, another longtime partner in South Carolina. We are filling orders to stand ready to support the area with more supplies as the need continues to unfold.

More aid efforts are underway. Our partners, Convoy of Hope, loaded over 300 of our Feed the Children disaster relief boxes on their truck headed to South Carolina. This was product they had remaining from the response to flooding here in Oklahoma and Texas earlier this year. Plans are still being developed to support the area through FTC Transportation but we want to make sure these shipments go to the areas that need it most. We also must ensure we send the right product to the right area, to the right people at the right time. With flood waters still rising and new areas being impacted, our timing on sending trucks must coincide with water level decline and need in the community.

Feed the Children is an organization in which communities rely on during their most difficult times. Through hundreds of shipments to our international offices and partner agencies, Feed the Children has been able to provide assistance to the areas hit hardest by past disasters. By partnering with Feed the Children and making financial contributions, one can be assured together we are making a difference. Help us by keeping a “disaster” from a becoming a “total disaster” to a family or individual in need.

To receive time-sensitive updates on potential disaster relief find us on our various social media platforms or text Disaster to 51555.

John Ricketts is the Director of Domestic Programming and Disaster Services at Feed the Children.