center for hope

More NC children living in poverty than in 2008


center for hopeThe number of children in North Carolina living in poverty has increased by 25 percent since 2008, according to a report to be released Tuesday, even as the nation recovered from the recession.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation report, which studies factors related to children’s well-being, noted several worsening financial conditions in the state since the recession, but also saw improvements in healthcare and education. The foundation is a private philanthropy that makes grants to nonprofits to respond to issues that negatively affect children.

About 566,000 children, or one in four in the state, live in poverty, according to the report. Two other measures of financial stability – children whose parents lack secure employment and teens who are not in school and not working – also worsened since 2008.

North Carolina ranked 35th overall in the report for child well-being. The state tied with Texas and Kentucky for the 11th highest child poverty rate in the country. The federal poverty level for a family of four is $24,250.

Laila Bell, the director of research and data for the non-profit NC Child, said that the recession was a trigger for some of the changes, but state legislation contributed to the problems.

As an example, she cited the state allowing the earned income tax credit to expire in 2014. Republican lawmakers at the time said eliminating the tax credit, along with other changes, was meant to simplify the system and to spread the tax burden equally.

Bell said the challenges are even larger than the report indicates because it takes the income of twice the federal poverty level to adequately provide for children.

Measuring by that standard, about half the children in North Carolina live in poverty, or more than a million children, Bell said. Children of color are twice as likely to live in poverty, she said.

Nola Davis, 37, is staying in the Salvation Army’s Center of Hope shelter near uptown with her three children, ages 2, 3 and almost 11. She said her family moved there in October after losing its home and living in a hotel for about a year.

Davis recently found a job with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and her children’s father works at the airport.

She said she has continually been rejected by landlords for housing despite being able to pay the rent.

“Once they find out you’re here, it’s such a stigma coming from a homeless shelter that nobody wants to rent to you,” she said. Davis and her family recently found a landlord willing to rent to them, and they hope to move in next month.

‘A heavy burden’

Poverty impacts many areas in a child’s life, Bell said. Children in poor households have less access to fresh foods, high-quality schools and green space. Over time, these children may be less prepared for school, impacting their education.

“Coming to school with that on your shoulders is a heavy burden,” said Susan Hansell, executive director of A Child’s Place.

Children living in poverty also spend less time in school because they normally have to use school buses to get home, she said. “They’re not able to take advantage of after-school programs,” she said.

Homeless children can also experience a higher degree of anxiety and depression, Hansell said.

Though poverty affects children at any age, those in early stages of development are particularly susceptible, Bell said.

Davis said her oldest daughter can’t understand all of the circumstances that led to living at the shelter.

“How do you explain that to a child?” she said.

Bell said North Carolina lawmakers could improve conditions for kids in the state by supporting the health of mothers before and during their pregnancies. Better healthcare, possibly through expanded access to insurance for low-income women, can help prevent low birth weight babies.

The state government could also invest more in early childhood education, a key to children’s development and future success in school, Bell said.

Charlotte has a network of support groups and non-profits that can help children and families in poverty, Hansell said. A Child’s Place advocates for homeless children and their families, helping them find healthcare and educational support.

Not all the factors in the Kids Count report worsened. All health measures improved, and three out of four education measures improved. About 94 percent of the state’s children are insured, more than at any point in the state’s history, Bell said.

In education, the report found more fourth-graders are proficient in reading, more eighth-graders are proficient in math and more high school students are graduating on time.



See Love At Work!

By  Lt. Col. William Mockabee, National Secretary for The Salvation Army World Service Office (SAWSO).
mockabee-smaller-150x150The Salvation Army World Service Office (SAWSO) releases its annual report for 2013 today, with the theme of “Love Works”. Read the report to witness first-hand The Salvation Army’s work in local communities around the world. You will see how SAWSO programs encourage the growth of small income-generating activities for villagers in India’s Central Territory, and provide business skills, literacy training, a school and a safe places to stay to women in Mumbai’s red light district and their children. Discover how another program fights polio in Angola through education and supporting national immunization days. Watch traveling youth drama groups perform skits in villages while local pastors engaged the crowd, encouraging them to go for voluntary HIV screening and testing in Zambia. Celebrate the lives of fishermen in Japan as they are rebuilt with equipment and vehicles to replace those washed away by a tsunami.

You are invited to download and view the entire report here.

sawso annual reportDear Friends,
Love works!

At The Salvation Army World Service Office (SAWSO), we believe this is true for three reasons.

Love is effective. I have personally witnessed the transformation that love can bring about in the lives of individuals and communities while travelling to several countries to support international work, and while serving for three years in Sri Lanka. From my perspective as leader of SAWSO, I’m given the daily gift of glimpsing the breadth and scope of the work The Salvation Army does on a global scale. There is no greater blessing than knowing that a loving God is using us as a tool, and that He gave us the power of love to transform lives of people living in poverty, women and children living in powerlessness, or people brought low by an unforeseen disaster.

Work done with love reflects God. We are acutely aware of how God has uplifted us, and given us hope and purpose. At SAWSO, we proactively seek out opportunities to help others experience these same blessings. We aspire to always be active catalysts for lasting change.

The fullest fruits of love, inspired by God, can only be brought about through maximum effort. From our most closely held internal processes to field work in the most distant and remote villages, SAWSO team members work diligently with, and in service to, all of our stakeholders, donors, partners and beneficiaries.

We thank all of your for joining us in our commitment to achieving sustainable results, maximizing resources, and multiplying our effectiveness through collaboration.
Love, then work. That is the way to do the most good.

May you recognize God’s love in your lives and may you enjoy discovering ways to share it.


Walmart & Salvation Army To “Fill the Truck” with Toys for Children in Need

Fill the Truck

Starting this Saturday, November 29, select Walmart stores across the country will kick off the second annual Fill the Truck Toy Drive, which will collect hundreds of thousands of toys for children in need in partnership with The Salvation Army.
Shoppers visiting one of the 3,500 participating stores on November 29, December 7, and December 15 will have the opportunity to drop of new, unwrapped toys at the trucks or bins to be distributed to assist parents in providing joy to their children on Christmas morning.

“Walmart has been such a big supporter of The Salvation Army and we are so appreciative of all the hard work they put into Fill the Truck,” said Major Ron Busroe, National Community Relations and Development Secretary for The Salvation Army USA. “This year, Fill the Truck is reaching even more customers and our hope is to provide more children with a Christmas toy that they would not receive otherwise.”

In one day at last year’s inaugural event, generous shoppers donated an amazing 135,000 toys and 10,000 coats for American children in need.

For more than 40 years, Walmart has been an essential partner of The Salvation Army. In addition to these events, the Walmart Foundation – whose mission is to create opportunities so people can live better around the globe – is once again helping us combat hunger through a $1 million donation to support The Salvation Army’s feeding programs, which provide nearly 60 million meals each year to individuals in need.

This Thanksgiving and beyond, The Salvation Army give thanks for Walmart, our valued partner in Doing the Most Good.
See you Saturday!

Read the official press release at

Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Collects 10,000 Back-to-School Items for Students in Need

School is in full gear, and so are thousands of kids thanks to Krispy Kreme’s “Stuff the Bus” campaign which provided backpacks and school supplies to hundreds of children from low-income families across the country.

Throughout the months of August and September, participating locations collected supplies donations from their communities in exchange for a free Original Glazed Doughnut; an alluring incentive, if you’ve ever tried one. The supplies were distributed via The Salvation Army.

Annual school shopping can be an expensive feat, so we’re thankful for the supporters who stepped up to donate approximately 10,000 items for American families in need.

A huge thanks to Krispy Kreme Doughnuts for their generous support of The Salvation Army’s back-to-school programs.

Krispy Kreme employees in Louisville, KY

Sorting through donations at The Salvation Army in Akron, OH

Krispy Kreme employees in Knoxville, KY

Posted by Megan on Thursday, September 26, 2013 ·


A Huge Thanks to Target from Students in Oklahoma & Arkansas

In partnership with The Salvation Army, Target is providing a memorable back-to-school shopping experience that equips children in need with all the essentials for a successful academic year. And the campaign, which awarded 12,000 children, affiliated with Salvation Army youth programs, with $80 gift cards to shop for clothing and supplies with the help of a designated chaperon, is doing more than filling backpacks.

Our back-to-school program with Target provides emotional encouragement for families in need. These kids are getting jazzed for the school year ahead while parents are relieved of the rising costs associated with the annual shopping tradition.

Want to support The Salvation Army’s back-to-school programs? Find your local Salvation Army here. 
With the help of volunteers, students from Norman, OK checked off their teacher’s lists by picking out supplies – and their favorite clothes – courtesy of Target’s generosity.

Check out this touching video from The Salvation Army Arkansas-Oklahoma Division, and help us say “Thank You” to Target by ‘Liking’ and commenting on their Facebook page (


Elizabeth Smart: ‘I found something worth living for’

elizabeth smartBy Alex Branch

FORT WORTH — Inside a tent pitched on a Utah mountainside, moments after she was sexually assaulted by her kidnapper, Elizabeth Smart was overwhelmed by shame.

Just 14 and abducted hours earlier from her bedroom, she wondered if anyone would even search for her if they knew what had just happened.

Stories she had seen on the television news about kidnapped and murdered children flashed through her head and she wished she “was in heaven with them.”

“I remember lying on the floor of that tent feeling so worthless, crushed,” Smart told an audience at the Omni Fort Worth Hotel during the Salvation Army annual luncheon Wednesday. “I just didn’t feel that I could ever be worth anything.”

But Smart, whose abduction and rescue a decade ago captivated the nation, said she overcame that feeling with memories of her family’s love. She became determined to see them again, a sense of purpose that she hoped Salvation Army clients would remember as they battle their adversities.

“Because I found something worth living for, I was able to decide that no matter what happened, I would survive,” said Smart, who is now 25. “No matter what I had to face, I would do it as long as it was within my power. Somehow, I would see my family again.”

Smart’s speech was the main feature at the Salvation’s Army’s Doing the Most Good luncheon. The event raises money for Salvation Army programs, such as homeless prevention, addiction treatment, food pantries and supportive housing.

Smart’s abduction June 5, 2002, is well-known. Brian David Mitchell, a homeless street preacher, broke into her family’s Utah home while everyone slept, took her into the nearby mountains, sexually assaulted her and held her captive for nine months.

Police rescued Smart nine months later. Mitchell was sentenced to life in prison.

His wife, who helped keep Smart captive, was sentenced to 15 years.

Smart, who married 14 months ago, has since helped promote legislation to prevent abductions. She also speaks to recovery organizations nationwide.

On Wednesday, she described growing up with strict but loving parents and brothers who teased her.

The night she was kidnapped she had fallen asleep as usual in the bedroom she shared with her sister.

She awoke to a knife pressed to her neck and the sounds of a man’s voice.

Smart said she had always been warned not to talk to strangers, never get into their cars or help them look for lost puppies.

“No one ever told me what to do if someone broke in and had me at knifepoint,” she said. “I couldn’t believe it was real.”

Moving forward

Smart recounted being forced to walk up the mountain behind her home, crawling through a narrow ravine and finally reaching a remote encampment where Mitchell’s wife waited. At one point she recalled telling Mitchell that, if his intent was to rape and murder her, to just do it now.

“I’m not going to do that. Yet …” he replied, smiling.

During the next nine months, Smart was forced to travel to California and eventually back to Utah with her captors. She recalled once getting a meal at a Salvation Army shelter when Mitchell’s group had no food. And she recounted the events of March 12, 2003, the day she was rescued by police and reunited with her parents.

“I remember thinking if anyone ever asks me how to describe this moment I can in one word: Heaven,” she said. “No one had ever looked so beautiful to me as my mom did.”

During her recovery, her mother gave her advice that she followed. She told Smart that her kidnapper was evil and what he did to her was wicked.

“Then she said ‘The best punishment you could give [Mitchell] is be happy, move forward with your life and to do exactly what you want to do,’” Smart said. “‘Because it would be very easy to live in the past, to dwell on what happened to you. But that would allow him to take more of your life.’

“She was so right. … You’re not helping yourself out by holding on to the pain and the misery. You have to move forward.”

Alex Branch, 817-390-7689

Twitter: @albranch1

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