On many days, I arrive at school in time to say good morning to a young father who holds one child by the hand as he pushes a toddler in a stroller. One such recent morning, we both arrived as the sky opened up to shower us with liquid blessings. Coming out of the school, the man stood under the canopy waiting for the shower to end. I asked if he would like a ride home—an invitation eagerly accepted. I had always expected the family lived within a couple of blocks of the school. This rainy September morning I was surprised to learn he walks almost 2 miles each way to take his child to school.

Imagine this scenario: a young mother going through a divorce suddenly needs affordably-priced childcare so that her single-parent income can cover her basic living expenses. Her child is enrolled in Lincoln Childcare Center at about six months of age and stays through the school’s pre-k ABC Better Beginnings program—long after she no longer qualifies for child care tuition assistance.

Lincoln Childcare Center has been meeting the needs of families like these for more than 20 years. This nonprofit center provides a safe, secure check-in/out system for parents. Many of the teachers have been at Lincoln for 15 years or more. My child’s preschool teacher has a Master’s degree in education. The staff is not only qualified, but also committed to exceptional care and sound learning principles coupled with life skills that will serve them well into maturity.

The school is a United Way partner, receiving a portion of its funding from the United Way Fort Smith Area 100% program. Those funds are a huge help in keeping the center open. However, each United Way partner is also expected to find additional funding through services provided, grant writing, and fundraising activities.

Fundraising dollars at Lincoln enable the school to buy necessary supplies such a pull-ups, wipes, educational toys, craft materials, and books. The school also has expenses in building maintenance and upgrades, as well as playground equipment. Staff is required to complete continuing education classes, which are funded by the school. It truly takes a village to supply the funding needed to serve the working parents of the school located a few blocks from downtown Fort Smith on North 9th street.

Recently, the school has signed up for the Amazon Smiles program. This program allows Amazon shoppers to contribute to a participating non-profit of their choice. Under the program, Amazon will donate a percentage of the shopper’s purchases to their designated non-profit. If you are an Amazon shopper, please utilize the Amazon Smiles program and select Lincoln Childcare Center as your nonprofit choice. Every donation counts, no matter how small.

If you would like to make a charitable contribution to the Center, please send your contribution to Lincoln Childcare Center, 1415 North 9th Street, Fort Smith, 72901. Charitable gifts are greatly needed for the school’s literacy program, playground equipment, educational toys, building maintenance, and teacher training.

This school meets a great need in our community and is worthy of our financial support. An investment in Lincoln Childcare Center is an investment in the lives and educations of the families and children it serves—working families who might not be able to afford childcare otherwise. What could be a more solid investment than that? For more information, contact the Lincoln Childcare Center at 479- 782-4997.

To read about what the Fort Smith Symphony is doing for local students, check out Fort Smith Symphony: Beyond the Stage Into the ClassroomIf you're interested in more ways to give back during the holiday season, you may also want to read Civitan - A New Club Comes to Town.

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