Question:

What are some organizations that provide services to children and families?

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)

Guided by the Convention on the Rights of the Child, UNICEF strives to establish children's rights as enduring ethical principles and to institutionalize international standards of behavior toward children. UNICEF mobilizes political will and material resources to help countries, particularly developing countries, build their capacity to form appropriate policies and deliver services for children and their families.

Committed to ensuring special protection for victims of war, disasters, extreme poverty, violence, and exploitation, and those with disabilities, UNICEF responds in emergencies to protect the rights of children.

In addition to protecting children, UNICEF aims to promote equal rights for women and girls. UNICEF accepts direct monetary donations, and it sells cards and gifts that raise awareness of UNICEF's mission while also helping to fund its programs.

*Visit www.unicef.org for more information.

Christian Children's Fund provides international relief for children and their families.

Christian Children's Fund (CCF) believes that children have the right to experience life with as much joy and hope as humanly possible, and strives to create an environment of hope and respect for needy children of all cultures and beliefs, in which they have opportunities to achieve their full potential.

Christian Children's Fund provides practical tools for positive change to children, families, and communities around the world. CCF fosters child-focused development, using an integrated approach that combines interventions in Early Childhood Development, Education, Family Income Generation, Health & Sanitation, Nutrition and Emergency Response. One of the major ways that it achieves these goals is through Child Sponsorship, through which an individual donor pays a small sum on a regular basis to support a specific child or children.

A large part of creating the environment for which CCF strives is a personal connection, so sponsors are encouraged to write to their sponsorees and can receive letters and updates in return. CCF also accepts one-time donations and planned gifts.

*For more information, visit www.christianchildrensfund.org.

The Children's Hunger Relief Fund (CHRF)

Children's Hunger Relief Find's strategy is to keep children alive, to provide kids with hope for the future, and to break the poverty cycle in children's lives. Two tenets of CHRF's work are to provide individualized attention, "saving the world one child at a time," and to they will minimize the organization's overhead costs so that more of every dollar goes directly to a child in need.

Since 1997, the organization has kept its overhead at or below 3% of total program spending, meaning that 97 cents of every dollar goes directly into the relief programs. The Children's Hunger Relief Fund operates areas of the world direly affected by turmoil, strife, drought, and famine. In addition to feeding and vaccinating children in such areas, CHRF actively seeks to rescue as many orphaned and abandoned children as possible in the areas in which they operate, providing these kids with new lives of safety and hope in children's homes operated by CHRF. As of 2005, the CHRF was operating relief efforts and children's homes in such places as Uganda, Darfur (Sudan), Rwanda, Afghanistan, and tsunami-affected Sri Lanka.

Big Brothers and Big Sisters of America

One of the largest children's charities in the United States, Big Brothers Big Sisters, is also the oldest and largest youth mentoring organization in the United States. National research has shown that the positive relationships between Big Brothers and Big Sisters and their "Littles" have a direct, measurable, and lasting impact on children's lives.

Research and anecdotal evidence show specifically that one-to-one mentoring helps at-risk youth overcome the many challenges they face. Little Brothers and Sisters are less likely to begin using illegal drugs, consume alcohol, skip school and classes, or engage in acts of violence. They have greater self-esteem, confidence in their schoolwork performance, and are able to get along better with their friends and families.

As of 2004, the organization served more than 225,000 youths, ages five through 18, in 5,000 communities across the country. To find out more about becoming a Big Brother or Big Sister, or how to support them in their mission, visit www.bbbsa.org.

Boys and Girls Clubs of America

The Boys and Girls Clubs of America addresses the growing challenge of modern life: that kids grow up pretty fast, and that children are often left to find their own recreation and companionship in the streets—and that often comes to no good.

With an increasing number of children at home with no adult care or supervision, many young people feel neglected. They need to know that someone cares about them. The BGCA offers these children a place to go, and programs and services that promote and enhance the development of boys and girls by instilling in them a sense of competence, usefulness, belonging and influence. The various programming offered at Boys and Girls Clubs in communities throughout the country covers such important areas as:

• Character & Leadership
• Education & Career preparation
• Health & Life Skills
• Arts
• Sports, Fitness & Recreation
• Specialized programs (alcohol/drug, pregnancy & gang prevention, and leadership development)

All of these programs are designed to meet specific needs of specific kids in different communities. And, all of these programs aim to help children become more well-rounded, confident, and productive members of the community. To learn more about the organization's mission, about your local Club, and how to get involved, please visit www.bgca.org.

Ronald McDonald House Charities

The Ronald McDonald House Charities creates, finds, and supports programs that directly improve the health and well being of children. Since 1974, Ronald McDonald Houses around the world have provided a "home-away-from-home" for families of seriously ill children who are receiving treatment at nearby hospitals.

Extensions of the Ronald McDonald House program, Ronald McDonald Family Rooms, provide a haven within hospitals for families of children undergoing treatment. In addition to addressing the special needs of seriously ill children and their families, the Ronald McDonald House Charities also tries to improve the welfare and opportunities of children in under-served areas.

Since 2000, Ronald McDonald Care Mobiles have provided cost-effective medical, dental, and educational services to under-served children in their own communities. RMHC also offers scholarships to students from disadvantaged communities who face limited access to educational and career opportunities.

*For more information on RMHC's work and opportunities to contribute to their mission, visit www.rmhc.org.

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