Tis the season to be charitable…

The holiday season brings much joy to most people – regardless of what holiday is celebrated.  It is a joyous season of celebration, family, friends, gifts, and lots of food!!!  But to many, the season can be a stressful and depressing time due to economic hardships.  When it is a struggle to simply meet the basic survival needs, celebrating the joy of the holiday season is even more of a challenge!  And when there are children involved it is particularly difficult!  This year, in particular, the economy has put an enormous strain on individuals and families already in need.  It has also created much hardship on the abilities of charitable organizations that provide needed services to these individuals and families.

If you are in a position to be charitable this holiday season – and throughout the year, I urge you to consider helping any one of the many wonderful non-profit agencies in Lee County that provide a wide variety of services to our citizens in need.  The Sanford Herald is currently printing a list of organizations that are asking for your help – please give what you can to the organization(s) of your choice!

In particular, I would like to ask for your consideration of Communities In Schools of Lee County.  CIS is a non-profit organization near and dear to my heart that provides a variety of programs targeted to keeping kids in school and preparing them for life.  While the first programs that come to mind when thinking of CIS are the mentoring / tutoring focused programs and Kid’s Voting, we also have programs that help provide children with some very basic needs that, without them, hinder their ability to successfully learn and grow in a safe and healthy environment.  Two that become more important during the winter and holiday seasons are Back Pack Pals and The Emergency Fund.  Both programs meet two of the five basics that we feel every child needs and deserves:  “A Safe Place to Learn and Grow” and “A Healthy Start and a Healthy Future”.

Back Pack Pals is a wonderful program that has recently been implemented in Lee County.  The program provides food to elementary school children who are identified as having little or no nutritional meals over the weekend.  They are typically children who are on the free or reduced lunch programs in their schools and show signs that they are not eating properly between Friday’s lunch and Monday’s breakfast at school.  This results in children coming to school on Monday morning hungry and ill equipped to successfully learn.  Children in the program are provided an unidentifiable back pack full of non-parishable, easy to prepare foods to take home with them over the weekend.  They bring the back packs back to school with them on Monday to be refilled for the following Friday.  Other counties that have this program have proven results of increased grades and reduced behavioral issues in children enrolled in the programs.  CIS currently has five elementary schools participating in the program – the most recent addition to the program is Broadway Elementary which was added due to a generous grant of $1500 from Wyeth designated specifically to expand to a school that was not currently in the program.  CIS’ goal is to eventually increase funding and our volunteer base to be able to expand the program to include all of Lee County’s elementary schools.

The Emergency Fund is a pool of funds specifically ear marked for use in purchasing basic health and safety items.  School counselors contact CIS with requests for items such as, coats, hats, gloves, shoes, and other items that they have identified specific children in need of.  CIS uses the money in the Emergency Fund to purchase these items and deliver them to the counselors for distribution to the students. 

How can you help?  As with all non-profit organizations this year in particular, funds are limited.  Any contributions to help us fund these and all our other programs are desperately needed.  Not in a position to help out financially?  CIS is also always looking for volunteers to help in many ways.  Another way to help is to drop off donations of non-perishable, easy to prepare food items to increase our supply for the back packs – contact CIS to find out what types of items are appropriate for this program.

Donations can be sent to Communities In Schools of Lee County, 131 Charlotte Avenue, Suite 101, Sanford, NC  27330.  If you want to help fund our programs in general, no specification is necessary – your donation will be added to our general budget and used to support all of our programs.  If you would like your donation to be used specifically for Back Pack Pals and/or the Emergency Fund, please notate that preference on your check or a note accompanying your check.  For more information or to inquire about other ways you can help CIS through donations or volunteering, contact the office at 919-718-5426 or cisleedirector@windstream.net.

Thank you for any consideration you may give CIS or any of Lee County’s important and valuable organizations.  Your generosity will be greatly appreciated!  We hope that CIS is one that you will find worthy of your consideration this holiday season and throughout the year.

Happy Holidays!!!

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