Backpacks filled with new school supplies, hygiene products and books were secured in cardboard boxes stacked high in the Jeffco Public Schools …
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Backpacks filled with new school supplies, hygiene products and books were secured in cardboard boxes stacked high in the Jeffco Public Schools warehouse in Lakewood on Oct. 12.
Homeless liaisons from 30 school districts across the state were picking up some of the 2,300 backpacks for their students.
According to the most recent numbers from Jeffco schools, the district has almost 2,800 homeless students. Of those identified 300 got a new backpack.
“It’s a touching experience bringing all of us together,” said Jessica Hansen, Jeffco’s homeless liaison.
Dana Scott, state coordinator for education of homeless children and youth, said as of the latest count, 2010-11 school year, Colorado has 21,487 children experiencing homelessness.
That number is three times what the count was during the 2003-04 school year. Scott said this year was the first time the number of homeless children in the country passed the one million mark.
“All of this really speaks to the importance of intervention,” Scott said. “So kids can be in class seats ready to learn.”
She explained for a lot of homeless students school is the only stable environment they have and the backpacks, school supplies and hygiene products might be the only thing they get to own.
Of bringing so many homeless liaisons from across the state together in one place for the same cause, Hansen said the distribution day was encouraging.
“We get re-energized when we all get to come together,” she said, “to meet the needs of the greater good for all kids.”
The packs were provided by Feed the Children, a nonprofit group bringing aid to homeless children in school.
Many volunteers from Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters USA, a division of AmeriCorps, helped pack the supplies into the backpacks and onto trucks for delivery.
This is the sixth year the program has given out the backpacks, and for the last five years Jeffco has donated its warehouse as the location for the other homeless liaisons to come get the backpacks for the schools.
A student is identified as homeless by the McKinney-Vento homeless Assistance act, which states a child lacking a fixed nighttime residence is classified as homeless. This includes children living with friends or relatives, in hotels or motels, emergency shelters or transitional housing programs.
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