According to a 2010 survey conducted by UNICEF, the U.S. ranks near the bottom of the world’s wealthiest countries in how well it cares for its children in poverty. Out of 24 nations, the U.S. ranked between 19th and 23rd in critical areas of health, education, and material well-being.
These critical unmet needs are what spurred Cassandra Steptoe-Sampson to found a Child’s Dream-CA (ACDCA), a Culver City-based charitable organization dedicated to helping poor and underprivileged children by providing resources needed for children to become healthy and responsible citizens in their communities.
“It is my desire to expand our efforts to stand ready to assist families all year round,” said Steptoe-Sampson. “We are committed to being a joyous part of every child we are able to reach. That is my dream.”
ACDCA hosts two annual one-day outreach events at the Culver City Teen Center.
The first is the Back to School Outreach in August where children are provided with free backpacks filled with school supplies and personal hygiene products. The kids also receive new shoes and a haircut.
The second event is the Holiday Outreach this month where the kids will receive canned goods, nutritional snacks, and holiday gifts. Toys are delivered by the Culver City Fire Department on their fire trucks, a spectacle that usually puts smiles on the children’s faces, according to the organization.
For families barely getting by, the toys spark hope and assurance that the holidays will be a happy occasion.
“What we could not do alone–We do Together,” Steptoe-Sampson said. “Collectively we are able to maximize our outreach efforts which gives us the ability to connect to those in need of tangible enrichment; while simultaneously continuing to build a strong network of affiliates, sponsors and community partnerships.”
A Child’s Dream-CA began in 2006 when Steptoe-Sampson launched Living Waters Ministry in Culver City after many years of helping needy families obtain food through her church. Steptoe-Sampson’s focus and compassion was what motivated her to serve needy families not just in Culver City but in South L.A., Wilmington, El Monte, and North Hollywood.
In 2013 the organization was renamed A Child’s Dream and in that initial year, Steptoe and her organization, Back to School Outreach served more than 800 people with school supplies and personal hygiene products.
According to Steptoe-Sampson, one of the primary reasons for child abuse is a lack of resources in the home. This is her way of ensuring that children don’t suffer because there’s not enough to go around.
“If the primary care-provider knows that they have someone walking beside them as they prepare their children for the essential needs of life, they will be less likely to take out their own frustration on their children,” she said.
Some of the organization’s donors include World Vision’s The Storehouse, Good 360, Soles4Souls, Lily Jack, Mitch Zerg & Associates, My Stuff Bag Foundation, Project Dynamics, and International Churches of World Center and Affiliates.
“Our mission is clear, to see to the essential needs of individuals through practical means; one child, one family, one community at a time,” she said.