Children living in poverty are still recovering from the pandemic: 3 impactful ways you can help

(BPT) - As state and federal guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) begins to ease, there is cautious optimism building across the country. It seems that for many, the "end” is finally in sight as we look to get back to a sense of normalcy.

Though for many, specifically children, the long-term effects and hardships brought on by the pandemic are still a present and ongoing reality of life. The severity of the pandemic-induced recession has increased food insecurity and job loss. Widespread school closures paired with the high costs and demands of childcare have left many children without the reliability of school meals and many parents, mostly moms, having to make the difficult decision to leave their jobs.

The number of children and families living in poverty in America has swelled — in fact, a recent study conducted by the Center on Poverty & Social Policy at Columbia University found that the monthly child poverty rose to an estimated high of 21.4 percent in August 2020 as compared to 18.7 percent before the crisis (“Monthly Poverty Rates in the United States during the COVID-19 Pandemic”).

Three simple, but impactful ways to help end child poverty

The need to support underserved children is great, but there are countless ways that our communities can rally together and create change. Get involved today by checking out one of the following programs.

1. Donate Funds to Red Nose Day at Walgreens (online, in-store or through the retailer app)

For the seventh year in a row, Red Nose Day is back at Walgreens with the iconic Red Nose in digital form. This year, Walgreens is excited to bring back the Digital Red Nose, providing a way to bring people together virtually to spread awareness, raise funds and support children in need amid uncertainty.

Now through May 31, customers can get their Digital Red Nose by donating online at Walgreens.com/RedNoseDay. A donation will unlock a special Digital Red Nose filter that can be shared on Instagram, Facebook or Snapchat. Walgreens encourages everyone who donates to show their Red Nose Day spirit by sharing a selfie wearing their Digital Red Nose, tagging @walgreens, #NosesOn, then challenging friends and family to do the same. Customers may also donate in-store or, new this year, myWalgreens members can donate their Walgreens Cash rewards through their Walgreens app.

Red Nose Day has a goal of ending child poverty — one nose at a time — by funding programs that keep children safe, healthy, educated and empowered. Even a simple donation of $1 can impact a child’s life by providing nutritious meals, educational services, safe shelter and more.

One hundred percent of the donations will go to Red Nose Day, benefiting grantee partner organizations including Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Children’s Health Fund, Covenant House, Start Early, City Year, Feeding America, International Rescue Committee, Brotherhood Sister Sol, Amref and others that are dedicated to helping underserved children.

2. Donation Drop-Off to Local Organizations

Across the country, children living at or below the federal poverty level are in need of basic resources and essentials. To contribute and fight for children in need, consider donating goods to local charities and organizations that collect supplies for all ages.

Supplies may include shoes that no longer fit your children, winter coats or other essential clothing. Around the back-to-school season, consider donating backpacks or school supplies that young children may need in the classroom.

The impacts of poverty at a young age can follow a child well into adulthood — and are linked to a higher incidence of accidents, chronic disease and mental health issues throughout life (National Academy of Science USA). That’s why reaching these children where they are, and connecting them with the essential resources of food, clothing, security and health, is so crucial.

Donations of any kind can help break this cycle of poverty, leveling the playing field for children who have been historically disadvantaged or overlooked.

3. Prepare Food Donations

School closures due to COVID-19 have shone a light on the overwhelming number of children who depend on meals due to a lack of food at home. Nutrition in childhood influences children’s current and future health, yet 13 million children (1 in 6) may experience food insecurity in 2021 (Feeding America).

As summer approaches, the need to provide access to key sources of nutrients for America’s children to keep them moving, playing and active is even greater. Automate your giving by folding it into an activity you’re already doing.

If you order groceries online, consider a second order of shelf-stable pantry items to send directly to your local food pantry. Leave a box of shelf-stable pantry items in your car and the next time you pick up a prescription, drop off pantry items to a local shelter. Connecting with local organizations within your community for socially distanced volunteer opportunities to distribute food to children and families who need it is also a great way to give back.

Although many are beginning to feel the weight of the pandemic slipping away, many others are still suffering through its lingering effects — particularly the children living near and below the poverty line.

While the impacts of this recession are likely to stick with us for years to come, we can all work together to take small actions that will contribute to the solution.

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