by Virginia Sowers, ChildFund Community Manager
Since 1952, ChildFund, partnering with local affiliate organizations, has provided sponsorships and programs for some of the poorest communities in the South, Southwest and Northern Plains.
Winter is an especially challenging time for children and families in western communities. When an ice storm hits in Oklahoma, it can debilitate a community for a week or more due to downed power lines. Rural roads become unsafe for travel. Adults can’t get to work, thus losing valuable income for food and necessities. Children can’t get to school, missing valuable learning time and peer interaction. In South and North Dakota the winters can last from September to May, with a small window of spring and summer.
This week, in the wake of a blizzard that is tracking across the U.S., parts of North Dakota and South Dakota experienced bitterly cold temperatures with wind chills as cold as 40 degrees below zero.
As the winter season drags out in the Dakotas, it becomes increasingly difficult for many families to afford the rising cost of propane to heat their homes. Water systems freeze. Pipes burst. Children sometimes lack winter clothing, or require support in obtaining warm coats and boots required for survival in the extreme weather conditions.
Although most ChildFund programs in the U.S. focus on after-school activities for children and youth, we have held emergency drives in the Northern Plains to provide water, food and other emergency aid when a bad winter storm hits. ChildFund area offices also act as advocates, linking communities with resources. As ChildFund services in the U.S. continue to expand, we are working with communities to strategically prepare for weather emergencies.
Sponsoring a child in the U.S. is a wonderful way to help. It costs $35 per month, which is a bit higher than for other countries in which ChildFund works due to higher costs of providing services here at home.
For more information about U.S. child sponsorship, call 800-776-6767, or visit the child sponsorship section of our website. (FYI: We don’t show online photographs of U.S. children to protect their privacy and ensure their safety.)