My first interest in U.S. poverty goes back to when I was a kid. My father was in the Army and we moved all over the place,” Julianne Moore begins. “So when I went to Appalachia last year, it was my first trip for Save the Children, but it was not my first awareness of U.S. poverty.”
It was not only the poverty but also the remoteness of those living in Duff, Tenn., that struck Moore. “There’s nothing to eat there. Maybe there’s a convenience store with canned or packaged stuff. But there’s no fresh food,” she observes. “And there’s no employment.”
Save the Children reaches out to the impoverished through the school system.
With their after-school programs as well as literacy support, the org benefits 35,000 children a year. In rural America, 2.6 million children live in poverty.
“There’s afternoon snacks and fitness,” adds Moore about the org’s program at White Oak Elementary School. “The foundation involves the entire community. It is an employer for people in these areas.”
Last Valentine’s Day, Moore launched her special initiative that allowed people across the country to print and email Valentine’s Day cards in return for a charitable donation.
She raised $52,000 for Save the Children. Next year, the actress wants to get Valentine’s Day cards in retail stores.
June Pyle has worked with Save the Children for 30 years. Serving as the family resource director at White Oak Elementary in Duff, Tenn., she helps parents and children access needed services.
Pyle recalls the early days of the org in Duff. “In the beginning, they would say, ‘Here’s some money. And you try to figure out the programs it should go to. What your community needs.’ It had its good points.”
But in 2005, the org launched its in-school and out-of-school literacy programs at White Oak Elementary, teaching kids like Destinee Hammond, below. “Test scores have improved. Reading levels have improved,” Pyle says.
And the newly introduced CHANGE (Creating Healthy, Active, and Nurturing Growing-up Environments) provides children in after-school and summer programs with exercise and a healthy snack. “We just finished up five weeks of summer camp,” Pyle says. “And it went really well this year.”
— Anna Stewart