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Caring for all Arkansas ChildrenPosted Wednesday, December 26, 2012, at 10:57 AM
Generosity is part of Arkansas's culture. Regardless the form of loss or suffering, time and again, Arkansans come to the aid of others. This kindness of spirit shines brightest during the holiday season. It's heartwarming to recognize all that Arkansans do for disadvantaged children and families at this time of year.
One program synonymous with benefiting children at Christmas time is the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve's Toys for Tots. Their mission is to collect new, unwrapped toys and distribute them as Christmas gifts to needy children. These are children who find themselves in unfortunate situations through no fault of their own. Organizers work to make sure that a Toys for Tots gift is often accompanied by a message of hope.
There are many other large-scale efforts under way to improve the lives of children in Arkansas. This month, a Little Rock-based program for homeless children and adults launched a capital campaign to expand its services. Our House provides housing, job training, education, and child care for homeless families who are working but still cannot make ends meet. Through Our House, these families develop skills that will enable them to be independent and successful on their own. But no matter how many families Our House helps, there are always many more on waiting lists. That's why Our House hopes to triple its program capacity, making it easier for more families support themselves.
The work of charitable organizations, like Our House, is now more important than ever. The number of people in homeless families living in suburban and rural America rose nearly 60 percent during the recent Great Recession. In fact, more than one million school children are now homeless in our nation, with almost 19,000 of those children living in Arkansas.
This month Arkansas Children's Hospital announced a new center to honor the legacy of its retiring Director and CEO, Dr. Jonathan R. Bates. The hospital has long been a leader in children's health care and in brightening the lives of kids who are ill. Dr. Bates was at the center of those efforts for decades, and the Bates Center will continue working to effectively and compassionately care for children.
One of the great things about Arkansas is that it's small enough to feel like a tight-knit community. Here, we seem to understand that we are all connected to one another. We know that the best opportunity we can give to the children of our State is to ensure they are well-fed, sheltered and healthy. Our compassion today helps pave the way for continued success and generosity among Arkansas's future generations. To everyone who reaches out a hand to others in our communities, thank you. May you find your own rewards in giving to others this Christmas and beyond the holiday season.
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