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Hunger and trauma are real to thousands of children

Most every child that walks through the doors of Baptist Children’s Homes (BCH) have two things in common—trauma and hunger. The impact of abuse on their young lives has created a darkness we would hope no child would ever experience. You can see it in their eyes—there is a deep sense of hopelessness.

It is hard for most of us to believe that hunger in North Carolina is a real issue. However, our state ranks ninth in the nation in food insecurity. One out of every six children in the Tarheel State goes hungry—with 19.6 percent of North Carolina’s children living in poverty.

Can you imagine being a child and feeling hungry, alone, hopeless, and frightened. Unfortunately, this scenario is all too typical. National child abuse and neglect reports total into the millions each year. More than 10,000 children in North Carolina have been removed from their homes due to neglect and abuse and need a safe place of refuge—a home.

Hunger, neglect, abuse are as close as next door. It is not unusual for children who come to BCH to hoard their food when they first come into care. One of the first things we do when children come into care is we feed them. No matter what time of day, we know they will come to us hungry.

Factors such as the harsh realities of poverty, abuse, trafficking, drug addictions and hunger all impact the child’s physical, mental, emotional and spiritual growth. A child who is ignored stops talking. A child robbed of emotions won’t hug or allow themselves to be hugged. A child who never plays with toys won’t learn as quickly. A child betrayed will find it difficult to trust.

All children deserve to be loved, to be held, to feel safe. They each deserve to become all God would intend. Often when I ask a child what they like most about BCH, they respond by saying, “I like the food.” I like my cottage parents, they really care about us.” “I am safe.” BCH is a place where tummies and hearts are fed every day.

April is Child Abuse Prevention month. Please stand with

us and speak for those who cannot stand and speak for themselves.

What can you do to help?

1. Help us feed the hungry.

• Participate in our annual Food Roundup throughout April.

2. Teach preventive measures to children.

• Teach them they have a right to feel safe all the time. Role play with them ways of saying no to inappropriate or threatening behavior.

• Teach them that someone must always know where they are, who they are with and when they will be home.

• Tell them nothing is so awful they can’t talk with someone about it. Help them identify safe people with whom they can share.

• Teach them how to use social media and how not to use social media. Help keep them safe by monitoring their social media interactions.

3. Offer to assist struggling parents that you know.

• Surprise a single parent by having pizza delivered to their home.

• Make a care call to offer encouragement.

• Take dinner over to a stressed parent one night (in paper containers, include paper plates and utensils so they will not have to clean up.)

• Deliver a planned movie night for a family complete with a box of popcorn and gift certificate for a movie.

• Deliver a board game night complete with board games and snacks to their home.

• Become a prayer partner with a young mother or father with a first child.

• Make sure they are aware of BCH and that we stand ready to help them.

4. Help children who desperately need you.

• Help us help them. Last year BCH ministered to over 117,502 children, families and individuals who needed help.

• Participate in our annual Food Drive which takes place throughout April.

• Become a bed sponsor.

• Lead your church and family in making a gift to BCH.

• Include BCH in your Will.

• Pray for our children and staff daily.

It is my prayer that the light of Christ shining through us will flood the darkness of the lives of the children and families entrusted to us and change them forever. Will you make this your prayer?

When you support BCH, you enable us to provide those we serve with warm beds to sleep in, food to eat, and loving, caring people to share the love of Christ with them. When you give you stand with every BCH staff member who stands at the door of each facility with outstretched arms proclaiming God’s love.

Remember, always be kinder than necessary for everybody is fighting some kind of battle. Be the light in the darkness! Thank you for standing with us and speaking for those who cannot stand and speak for themselves.

For more information on how you can make a difference, call me at 800-336-476-3669 ext. 1230 or 336-689-4442.

Written by Brenda Gray, Executive Vice President, Development & Communications

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