Returning to school is an exhilarating time for children. Many get to see old friends and compare summer vacation stories while others participate in fall sports and activities. And as much as I hate to admit it, by the time summer ended I was usually so tired of my parents (I later learned the sentiment was more than mutual), I was happy and ready to head back to the classroom. But for the estimated 1.3 million homeless students in America, this time of year can be a daunting experience; something most of us know nothing about and while we might feel sympathetic, we aren’t empathetic.
Samaritan House has been helping homeless children for 26 years, and our work has given us insight into their unique challenges and ways to help them prepare for school. For children living in emergency shelter, temporary housing, or on the streets, the uncertainty of living arrangements can cause deep anxiety and stress. Worries about hunger, clothing and shame dominate the lives of young children and youth whose families are in transition. Frequent isolation can also lead to emotional and behavioral issues—obstacles that would be crushing for adults. But we expect our homeless students to function in school alongside their peers.
Nationwide, we are facing a serious and legitimate problem as the number of homeless students in public schools has doubled since before the recession of 2008. Many families continue to struggle financially and school costs continue to rise: The cost of sending a child back to school is up to $673 for the average family, says the National Retail Federation, an increase of 54.8 percent over the last 10 years. So, you can double or triple that total if you have more than one kid in school.
One way to help alleviate this cost for homeless families is to donate school supplies. If you would like to help, here is a list of some supplies that would be very helpful. You can drop any items off at our office… thanks so much!!
Backpacks Glue sticks Construction paper Calculators
Number 2 pencils Colored pencils Sharpies Folders
Spiral notebooks Scissors Markers Pens
3 and 5 ring binders Loose- leaf paper Crayons Graph paper