Across Tennessee, Your Donations Are Helping to Deliver Food and Books to Out-of-School Kids

Since the earliest days of the coronavirus pandemic, Save the Children has been on the ground. Our teams are adapting and expanding how we deliver our world-class programs and advocacy for children, as well as launching new and innovative initiatives to prevent, mitigate and respond to the pandemic’s devastating impacts. 

As always, we’re doing whatever it takes for children. We’re on the front lines, where impoverished communities with weak health systems will be hit hardest by this pandemic. Where gaps are ever-widening between children who have the resources to learn at home and those who don’t. And where millions of people can’t afford missing even a day’s wages critical to their family’s survival. Here, a story of how donations get put to work in Tennessee. 

In one day, Jill and her Save the Children colleagues in Tennessee worked together with local school district staff to distribute nearly 400 nutritious breakfasts and lunches and 130 books to children from the elementary school they support, as local schools remain shut down due to coronavirus concerns.

“The families are all so appreciative of the food that some of them cry,” writes Jill, a liaison for Save the Children’s sponsorship program in eastern Tennessee’s Cocke County, which struggles with poverty. “The kids just want to get back to their normal routine, and they wonder why we're wearing masks and gloves. But it's the best when I hand them books – especially the bigger kids that I know well – and it’s a book I knew they would love.”

This is just one of the many daily efforts Save the Children staff in the Volunteer State – along with their colleagues across rural America – are organizing on behalf of some of the country’s most vulnerable kids living in poverty, helping keep their bellies full and learning going at home.

“I’m extremely proud of our staff across Tennessee, who are stepping up to make sure children in some of the most economically-challenged rural areas of the state continue to receive crucial resources while schools are closed,” said Patrick Iannone, Save the Children’s Tennessee State Director. “This includes preparing and handing out meals, distributing books and educational resources and quickly adapting our programs to provide continued educational opportunities through the use of social media and other technologies. Program staff in the local communities we serve are considered to be a tremendous support to children and families, especially at times like this.”

Also in Cocke County, Save the Children school-age program coordinator Ashley regularly posts video of herself reading different books aloud on Facebook, so the children she supports can continue to engage in reading. She is also consistently touching base with their families through calls and text messages, making sure they have what they need and encouraging them to continue learning as they shelter in place. 

“Thank you for being​ so kind and checking on us every day,” Stacy, a mother of fourth grade twins, wrote to Ashley.

“Mercy was so excited to see your face,” wrote Melissa, a mother of two, referring to her child’s reaction when she saw Ashley's latest read aloud on Facebook.

Two hours down the road in Morgan County, Save the Children community engagement coordinator Sandra has shifted her in-person read and learn sessions with local families to shareable video, too. For her latest installment, Sandra shared a video of her reading the children’s book “Fiddleheads.”

Sandra encouraged families to view the video and read the book together, and then venture around their home to see if they could find any fiddleheads. The community engagement coordinator received many responses from families, noting they went on the hunt for furled up greens in their backyard. She even received a photo of one child who successfully found a fiddlehead!

On the western side of the state, in Crockett County, a Save the Children early childhood coordinator, also named Ashley, received a desperate call from a mom of one of the young families she supports. The mom said she couldn’t find her baby’s special formula in any of the local stores. The family no longer had reliable transportation to continue searching, so Ashley drove outside the community and found and purchased the formula. She then placed the formula on the family’s front porch and called the mom to let her know it was there. The mom was tremendously grateful, noting that Ashley went above and beyond for her baby’s needs.  

Yes, from one side of Tennessee to the other, Save the Children staff are stepping it up for kids in this challenging time.


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