At World Vision, we’re called to serve the most vulnerable children and their communities around the world, including right here in the United States. And we do it by engaging churches and organizations and providing a way for manufacturers and businesses to share excess resources with people struggling with poverty. In 2019, we were able to reach more than 4 million people, including 2.1 million children, through our various U.S. ministries.
Here are the top four ways we are tackling poverty in the United States.
1. Donated products
World Vision helps tackle poverty in the United States by providing families, schools, churches, and community organizations with products donated by U.S. manufacturers and corporations. These products are distributed throughout our national network of more than 2,500 partner organizations from seven World Vision warehouse locations and 15 affiliate partner sites. We also operate essential supplies, building materials, and Teacher Resource Centers in cities like Chicago, Seattle, New York, Dallas, and Hartford, Connecticut.
Products donated include furniture, office and school supplies, hygiene products, cleaning supplies, appliances, clothing, toys, roofing shingles, insulation, books, seasonal decorations, and other items. In 2019, we distributed nearly $127 million worth of new donated products that helped almost 4 million people.
One way you can give essential products, like a winter coat, to a child in need is through the World Vision Gift Catalog.
2. Disaster response
When a major disaster strikes a U.S. community, World Vision staff jump into action to make sure children are protected and their families find relief during their time of crisis. Our response teams can act quickly after events like hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Florence, and Laura because of pre-positioned emergency relief supplies at our warehouses across the country.
World Vision has helped more than 132,000 people affected by storms in Texas, Florida, and North Carolina from September 2017 through the end of 2019.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, World Vision is partnering with churches and school districts to distribute Family Emergency Kits to families. More than 54,200 have been provided so far. Each box includes a week’s worth of nutritious and fresh food for a family of five, hygiene and protective items, educational supplies, coloring books and resources for kids, and other essentials.
In addition, World Vision has partnered with more than 100 churches to distribute 1.6 million boxes of fresh meat, produce, and dairy to help 4 million people.
Supporting our disaster relief efforts in the U.S. will provide relief when disaster survivors need it most.
In addition to our essential supplies and building materials centers, World Vision offers resources for teachers, schools, and their students through our Teacher Resource Centers. When families can’t afford to buy basic school supplies for their kids, their teachers and school leaders often provide them out of their personal budget. At World Vision Teacher Resource Centers, they get to select free items a few times per year to stock up on school supplies, classroom materials, books, games, and incentives to keep students engaged in lessons. This ministry impacted 296,000 students and teachers at 798 schools nationwide in 2019.
We also organize backpack drives each fall with various professional athletes and run an after-school tutoring and mentoring program for at-risk students, called KidREACH. In 2019, 360 students participated in KidREACH.
You can provide school supplies to tangibly encourage a child in their studies.
4. Volunteers and kit-building program
We also engage local volunteers. They come from all walks of life, including churches, schools, corporations, and special-needs student groups. They are essential to our ministry’s impact. Last year, more than 5,200 people gave almost 62,000 hours of their time. This saved World Vision nearly $1.5 million in labor costs, which allowed us to invest more in the ministry to help the most vulnerable in America.
Volunteering during COVID-19 has created new challenges. Since February 2020, World Vision has curtailed its volunteer programs and limited the number of volunteers entering buildings. At each site, World Vision has designated a COVID-19 champion to ensure safety compliance including physical distancing, wearing masks, proper hygiene practices, temperatures readings, and logging visits.
Learn more about how you can get involved with us through volunteering.
Laura Reinhardt and Sevil Omer of World Vision’s U.S. staff contributed to this article.