Share Our Strength ended 2011 with a record level of revenues, and year-end on-line giving up more than 130%, exceeding $1.4 million. These are remarkable results. The donation I am most excited about however was one we received for fifty bucks.
In the last days of 2011 this $50 contribution came from eight teachers in Fairfax County’s Family and Early Childhood Education Program (HeadStart) with a note that perfectly underscores one of our strategic imperatives for 2012. : “Please accept this donation to the No Kid Hungry campaign on behalf of the eight of us, all Early Childhood Resource Teachers in the FECEP/Headstart program in Fairfax County Public Schools, Fairfax, VA. We work with children and families of poverty each day and know their struggles. This year we decided to forgo our own gift exchange and donate to your cause instead. We appreciate all that you are attempting to do for these kids and their families!”
When teachers tell us that supporting our program is one of the most important ways of advancing their work, it is powerful testimony that ending childhood hunger through No Kid Hungry has the potential to become an education issue and with a larger constituency than we might have imagined. Childhood hunger and nutrition are health issues too. They are also tied to economic competitiveness.
Why is this so important? We’ve done a great job of capturing the imaginations and earning the support of those passionate about ending childhood hunger. But that universe of anti-hunger advocates, by itself, is not large enough to get the job done.
But it has given us a solid foundation from which to grow. Our strategic imperative going forward is to broaden our base, so that just like the 8 HeadStart teachers in Fairfax County who donated at year-end, those who are passionate about education, health care, and even economic growth come to see ending childhood hunger as a priority they should make their own.
All successful movements – from civil rights to the environment – succeed when they are able to cross over and appeal to a broader constituency than their original passionate but small base. It’s exciting to start 2012 knowing that those who work so closely with the most vulnerable of our children, such as the HeadStart teachers in Fairfax County, are reaching out to join our campaign.